- Eden’s snake
Crowley never signed up for this. He had played the bass for Heaven ever since he can remember but ever since Gabriel joined in as the main vocalist, everything had gone dipshit.
It all started when the Boss was spotted by a fancy label during one of their gigs. They weren’t interested in the band, but the main vocalist and lyricist could be a great asset for the company; she started her new career as a composer for Earth that same week. Needless to say, she never came around anymore to rehearsal or send them new lyrics, she was so busy with the big shots she had no time for the band she formed herself. Metatron sometimes called them with half assed excuses and big talk about a Great Plan but he was fooling no one, Boss had set her view into greener pastures and the old band could suck dick.
So the remaining members-Sandalphon, Uriel, Michael and Crowley himself- decided to hold auditions for a new lead. Gabriel came in with all the swagger and good looks of Don Draper if he were wearing leather pants and a crop top; he had a divine voice to top thus the decision was easy, they took him as the vocalist and lead. Big mistake.
In a month, he had composed two songs, both of them terribly dull and painfully similar to Jimmy Eats World circa 90’s. He had also demanded for the band to drop the old repertoire and use the new one during performances so they were forced to perform covers from other bands to fill the time slot. The cherry on top was probably the time he shouted at them for upsetting the tune he had just given them 30 minutes before. The singer was out of control and Crowley was not one to beat around the bush, so he stepped his foot on the ground and in no uncertain terms told him to fuck off. He wasn’t expecting the rest of the members to silently stare while Gabriel yelled at him not to come back. Michael, on the guitar, Uriel on the keyboard and Sandalphon on the drums; his partners for the last 15 years of his life, let him go like a shirt that had worn over the years and has become too thin to use anymore.
Some weeks later, he started to play with The Fallen. The lyrics were crude and raw, the music too loud and the solos too long but at least they gave him freedom on stage so Crowley thought it was better than nothing. He had to admit he first checked their ad for a new bass because he found certain irony in the fact he was just sacked from Heaven. The members of the group: Hastur on the electric guitar, Ligur on the drums, Dagon on the keyboard and Beelzebub as the singer, were as coarse as their music but that was fine, he wasn’t there to make friends.
They weren’t especially popular with the crowds, who usually found their music disruptive rather than revendicative. Crowley had pointed out multiple times that a chorus based on “MURDER CATS, EAT BRAINS, CREATE OUTRAGE” wasn’t going to attract much of a crowd but Beelzebub seemed especially fond of that particular song and disregarded his criticism easily. Still, it was better than singing covers of Panic at the Disco with Heaven.
That night, they were performing at one of the cities hot spots: the night club Eden. After their first part of the set including songs like “Leak my Wifi Julian Assange”, “Lord of the Flies is my Bitch” and “Maggots Ate Your Grandma”- the manager, Eve, didn’t seem happy with the patrons’ reaction, in fact, she rather they did not play the second part of their set and suggested to reframe the lyrics “more PG” if they ever called them back. They were quite bummed because they all regarded this gig as a vital step into their career but if Eden, whose main public was young punk, gothic and emo crowd didn’t get their message, maybe no one would.
The next band came up to the stage and Gabriel, the smug bastard, took the mike and reeled the crowd by introducing The Flaming Swords.
“What the fuck?” was the only reaction Crowley could muster at the moment. On the stage, his old band was still there: Michael, Uriel and Sandalphon were on the electric guitar, the keyboard and the drums as usual but in his place, there was a spiky dark haired and stocky bloke who held the bass, the tight skinny tartan pants and fitted T-shirt seemed somehow out of place and the tattoos on his arms glistened like new ink.
The new name was so idiotic that only Gabriel could have come up with it.
“FLAMING DORKS” Dagon complained loudly, snorting in the direction of the stage and sloshing his beer over their group mates. Crowley couldn’t contain his mirth and joined in the slandering the rest of his bandmates had started, shouting lewd names over the crowd and music.
The newbie stared at him unblinkingly when he jeered “fascist oafs” but Gabriel seemed to be enjoying the name calling and smirked directly at him while keeping on with his own redemption of “Wonderwall”.
Security came in looking for the troublemakers, thankfully, Crowley and the rest were smart enough to scatter and blend with the dancing crowd, stopping their assault enough for the guards to feel vindicated. The set had finished by the time those bouncers came back to their posts. Crowley smiled and shook his head absently seconds before feeling a hand on his shoulder and the next thing he knew; he was roughly pushed against a wall backwards.
“Who the hell do you think you are to shout like that during a performance?” the sturdy bloke who subbed for him inquired. Crowley quirked an eyebrow half surprised and half amused by the much shorter man who barely looked menacing at all and whose right arm was tensed for a punch but also shaky and wavering.
“Oh, C’mon, do take the piss! You were performing the worst cover of Wonderwall I’ve ever heard. Also, Nirvana? Great choice, no one has ever covered them before” the other man dropped his arms to the side but didn’t recoil. Looking at him from up close, the guy was kind of endearing in a clueless and earnest sort of way. His eyes were light and the black eyeliner was heavily applied, his lips were plump but tightly shut in a grimace, the spike choker around his neck looked too loose-almost a necklace- and his left arm tattoo was slightly peeling from the bottom half. Crowley felt like laughing at the fact that he tried to look menacing, but from his height -his spiky hair barely reached the other's nose up close- it just looked like an overgrown pup trying to pick a fight. He was clearly out his depth, maybe a bit drunk and had acted in the spur of the moment, but he wasn’t bucking down. Instead, he pressed Crowley closer to the wall.
“I’m not here to take your piss you shithead, it may not be original but at least we never sang about blending babies’ legs for breakfast. Did you parents raise you in a barn and never told you to shut your hole when someone else is performing?” Crowley stifled a cuckle. This guy had no idea who he was and completely misunderstood the whole situation; it was time to set things straight.
“I was raised in Heaven babe, but believe me, I rather be with the Fallen than spending one more day with those turncoats and shallow bastards” he crouched himself slightly on the wall and took away his sunglasses to look directly into his eyes. The other guy blinked twice, blushing slightly while retreating and leaving Crowley some space.
“You are the infamous Crowley?” he asked, and this time Crowley could feel the heat behind his words.
“Now that we’re getting acquainted, may I learn the name of the jerk who is replacing me?” oh, the look he was sending him - like he wanted to murder him but didn’t know where to find his courage- was so much fun. Almost like a corgi snarling at a wolf.
“Aziraphale” he gritted through clenched teeth.
“Well, Zira, let me tell you something you might not know: I was there when Heaven was the opening act for Muse, I was there when Boss was signed for Earth and started to write shit for motherfucking Avril Lavigne, and I was there when your dear ol’ chap Gabriel fucked over the band I dedicated half my life to. Don’t you tell me what I can or can’t call that arrogant arsehole” the rage was pouring out of him in every sentence and the shorter man did back up a little more.
“You…” he started to say slowly before he was interrupted by Uriel shooting daggers in their direction and signaling with her head it was time to come back to the stage.
“Later love” Crowley shouted half jokingly on his retreat. He looked for Beelzebub and Dagon, who had gone from tipsy catcallers to sullen drunks during the last two rounds without him.
“The worst part is, they eat it up! Look at that! How many times do they have to hear some bland version of Highway to Hell before they realize it’s the same old shit! They don’t have a single original song and yet, we are the ones that get booted off the stage. Tasteless shitheads” Beelzebub sneered in the general direction of the crowd enjoying the Flaming Swords.
“So, you were able to placate that shorty by yourself, I’m impressed Crowley” Dagon sounded anything but impressed. Crowley asked for a drink rather than engaging in conversation. Hastur and Ligur reappeared through the back door, giggling and shushing each other in childish kind of way.
“I hope they like my shit” Ligur cackled under his breath. Hastur started to laugh loudly. It dawned on the rest on them.
“Are you seriously telling me you took a dump in their van?” Crowley asked in between astonishment and chuckling. They both nodded.
“We need to get out of here quickly” Beelzebub urged them. The bass player, Aziraphale, kept looking at Crowley with a stern gaze, like he was judging him.
“Your boyfriend is staring” Dagon pointed out.
“Fraternizing is off limits” Hastur said dryly “they might infiltrate and try to steal our songs” Crowley didn’t comment on that; he rather not anger Hastur remarking their songs may be what it took for Flaming Swords to break down completely.
Hi! Is Lor here ( if you like the fanfiction, so can follow me in Twitter: @lorlupin)
Thank you for reading, this story is a love song to Good Omens and punk-rock bands, but also deeply personal at times so I hope you can enjoy it.
The story is fully written but it is quite long (around 35000 words) so I'm pacing myself publishing two chapters every couple of days. The first chapters are shorter, snippets from Crowley and Aziraphale's perspective. The first two chapters serve as an introduction to what's to come so there is little dialogue and a lot of description. It is not so descriptive and dialogue barren in the next chapters, I promise.
I love reviews and I constructive criticism but please, try to be gentle with me as it's been a long time since I last wrote and I feel quite insecure about it, so try not to be too harsh? Also, English is not my first language so expect some weird phrasings maybe.
This story might seem like a peak into the mind of self-indulgent woman who likes early 2000's punk-rock and punk-pop bands as they remind her of her teen years... This is exactly what the story is about hahaha
It is really, quite an important story for me because it's the first story I have written and published in the last 7 years. I'd like to thank the person who pushed me to write again: @healThisBike in Twitter. This is her story as much as mine since I would have never had the guts to start writing again if she hadn't like my prompt at the beginning of July and begged me to write the story. Mikki, this fanfiction is dedicated to you (so sorry it took me this long to publish it)
*this part is a thank you note, so you can skip it easily*
I want to thank a couple of people who have helped writing this as well. First and foremost, my wonderful betas @klausghosties and @carmarky, and also my fantastic friend and most honest critic, @vvecenta. Second, two people who made me open up to this amazing fandom and helped me get the courage to write again: @pedrowalonso, who was the first person to interact with me and Michael Sheen, the man himself, whose tweet at the beginning of July about fandom made me reignite my spark in writing at all. This is not the Oscars, I am aware, but I do feel I owe all these people credit for publishing here today. Finally, I have to thank my online family, the Pasioneras, for making me believe in myself and for being so supportive of my chaotic writing (and also Afri Jackson for her love of thighs has given me the courage to write smut). I love you dearly.
*end of the thank you note*
Chapter 2: Eden’s apple
Aziraphale never thought he would end up in a punk band, but life takes mysterious directions sometimes.
He'll get used to it in time, but this jerks yelling and hooting while his band is performing are not helping so, encouraged by booze he pins up the good-looking offender into a wall and demands explanations... It doesn't go as expected.
This chapter is a companion piece for the first chapter. Is the same night as chapter 1 from Aziraphale's perspective. It is the only instance of the story where I recount exactly the same events from both perspectives in different chapters.
2. Eden’s apple
The Fallen exited the club in a very indiscreet fashion and Aziraphale could sense a collective sense of relief from the band members on stage. After their two original songs, everyone clapped slightly and non-committedly. Gabriel seemed to think the night was a big success, he encouraged them and boasted about the crowd’s reception to their covers. He conveniently left out the original songs from his speech. Michael, Uriel and Sandalphon smiled and agreed. Aziraphale tried go along with the positive mood and came up more enthusiastic than he actually felt about their performance as they approached the van while steering their equipment.
It was only natural feeling a bit out of place. He was still quite unsure about the whole ordeal to begin with…
And that’s some shit.
Gabriel closed the van door with a bang and strode back to the club without uttering a word. The rest of the band looked at the vehicle with a mixture of disgust and incredulity. Michael retched for a while before starting a furious tirade about respect and professionalism. Sandalphon took the matters into his own hands and dialed the police while Uriel just stared in shock and placed a cloth over her nose. Aziraphale wondered briefly how the hell had he ended up there anyway.
The truth of the matter was he only started rehearsing with the group 2 weeks ago by chance; he was being interviewed for another band in a rehearsing local that happened to be next door to Heaven. As it turned out, the melodic pop band had already found someone to fill their position and his services were not needed. While getting out of the rehearsal room he found a poster looking for a bass in the same building. In a whim, he decided give it a shot and the group decided collectively to accept him. That was, once he was properly attired. The frumpy sweaters, crisp shirts and loose fitted trousers needed to be dropped and instead tight black clothes and eyeliner were required for the job. Not all too bad, many jobs these days required a uniform and he was only asked to be on time and on cue with the instrument. Gabriel was definitely a leader in every sense of the word, his bidding was unquestionable and his choices, although sometimes not the most appropriate, always answered with agreements and encouragements. Did he feel like the odd man out 80% of the time? Well, yeah, but he supposed that going from James Blunt to Gerard Way in less than 15 days must be quite challenging for anyone. He did look the part; he had drawn inspiration from the lead vocalist of Green Day for his attires and up until now, it was working out just fine -all expect the henna tattoo that started to crack in the middle of an impromptu performance due to the sweat running through his arm, but he was not counting that. He’d spent hours and hours watching documentaries, films and recorded concerts that helped him summon this wild persona he wasn’t very comfortable playing yet.
Of course, everyone had informed him the reason why they needed desperately a bass for the band: the last one had left without any notice and in the middle of ugly swearing and violent threats. Uriel briefly commented that Crowley, the former bass, was a pain in the ass and Michael remarked he was a loudmouth who never knew where his place was, Sandalphon smiled forcibly -as per usual- and added he wished the man rotted in hell. Aziraphale could paint a picture with those broad strokes.
He had only been rehearsing with the group for 3 days when the new name came into the picture. Apparently, their image needed some work after both the vocalist and the bass left so abruptly and in such a brief amount of time. Gabriel thought rebranding was the easiest way to launch the group. The Flaming Swords was chosen as the name after extensive discussion. Aziraphale was already reeling with all the recent changes and he was seriously reprimanded when he refused to tattoo an actual flaming sword as a group marker, hence the henna tattoo that he applied on his left arm for every performance.
And then his first actual concert came up. Everyone was excited about Eden and the possibility of getting a small fanbase interested in their music, that was until they checked the line-up. There they were, just before them, the Fallen were in the list of performances for that night.
Everyone was livid and they wasted no time explaining why: The Fallen were nasty and rude with other groups in general but had a special place in their heart for the Flaming Swords way before their former bass joined them; it was partly the way Heavens beats were more commercial and generally focused on light themes such as love or a sense of belonging…Well, that was before Boss left, now most of their setlist was composed of the biggest hits from the 80s and 90s, leaving aside the two terrible attempts of original songs, that shouldn’t be called original since the tune was actually a mixture of Jimmy Eats World and Sum 41 beats. The Fallen were going to mock them and publicly humiliate them in front of a full crowd right after their rebranding. Sandalphon, Michael and Uriel were angry enough to look for Eve, but Gabriel seemed quite content which left Aziraphale in a tough position. Was he supposed to be mad about this possible threat to his new job or should he stay calm and collected as Gabriel, see how the event unfolded? He was a nervous wreck and had free access to alcohol, so he did the sensible thing: he drank a couple of shots in quick succession and tried not to overthink what might happen.
The Fallen came to the stage. Aziraphale regarded them and their songs: they were about shock value, that was for sure. Each song needed explicit language that landed nowhere and their meaning didn’t go much farther than a toddler resenting their parents for forcing them to eat the greens. There might have been some good metaphors and some of the lyrics could work if rewritten but in the current state of things, the crowd just found the whole thing childish, crass and devoid of real content. The tunes were a bit too much for his taste but at least didn’t sound especially close to any other band, they had their own style. Their vocalist was not very gifted, the expression on his face looked like he was licking lemons during the whole performance but the rest made up for it, especially the bass player in sunglasses and confidence Aziraphale was never able to muster. No only did he look the part, he was everything that a rock star was supposed to be on stage: the way his body moved with the instrument, the swing of his hips -almost serpent like-, his hair perfectly ruffled but unmoving through the motions, the intricate snake tattoo cover his sideburn, the shades on an interior usually look ridiculous but he made them work somehow, his passionate solos and outstanding stage presence almost transfixed Aziraphale. Oh, and he was tall and lanky as well, the dark leather pants and unbuttoned shirt clang to him in an almost obscene way.
Gabriel joined the upset crowd in the jeers against the band, that never came back for the second part of their playlist. The Flaming Swords had to get ready quickly to replace them. Aziraphale could still feel the pleasant buzz of alcohol when he stumbled onto the stage.
Someone shouted something rude in the middle of their first song and it was like a flood gate had been opened: at least 3 other voices started to mock them over the sound of music. The crowd didn’t make much of a fuss about it but Aziraphale was already anxious as it was, he did not need rude people to top it. Then he looked to the counter and saw him, clear as day, the bass player was one of the offenders who was currently throwing them some unkind words. Every trace of respect he might have felt disappeared in an instant.
The break came and Aziraphale didn’t doubt one second: he marched purposefully towards the tall ruffled head he could still recognize in the crowd. Not knowing exactly how or why, and influenced in great way by the booze, the nerves and the new found anger, he pinned the other man against a wall and though for a second in throwing a punch for effect but then realized he would be the one hurt against those chiseled cheekbones and dropped the idea, leaving his fist raised as a warning. He must have looked ridiculous. He wasn’t about to recoil, though. He had enough self-respect to show this bastard he wasn’t one to be messed about.
And so, he learnt this person was no other than the notorious Crowley; he also learnt that this Crowley person was flirty and smug and way too good looking for his own good.The Fallen bass was much taller than himself, which make it very difficult to pose as threatening as he had intended in the first place. Worst of all, he did have a point musically speaking, which stung more than he was willing to show. Then he asked about his name and the sunglasses came off; Aziraphale knew in an instant he was doomed when those almost golden eyes stared directly into his. The way he just shortened his name without any prompting, as if they have known each other for thousands of years, almost made him shiver, hearing all that repressed anger and vitriol in his voice cleared his head enough to see Uriel eying them disapprovingly and noticing time had passed rapidly. Aziraphale left as quickly as he could but he did catch the “later love” that made him blush furiously. He thanked all the Gods in the Parthenon for Crowley not to be facing him anymore for he was already sufficiently embarrassed as it were. The group met and prepared for the second part of the concert. This time there were no shouts or jokes, although Aziraphale fixated his gaze on Crowley and the people he supposed his bandmates for a long time, just in case they started their shenanigans again. The next thing he knew, he had lost them from their spot at the counter and the crowd was opening up for their scape. “Better that way” he thought bitterly, with the last words Crowley had shouted at him still ringing in his head.
Well, right now, a stinking turd of shit seemed the only thing remaining from the rival band.
Chapter 3: The Ark
The next time they meet is at the Ark, a music shop regented by Noah.
*Today's chapters are very short, snippets into how they start to get acquanticed, so I'll upload three instead of two*
Please, rest assured that this story is finished and that most chapters are way lengthier than the ones I am publishing today.
The next time they met was at the Ark. Aziraphale was minding his own business thank you very much, looking at some old LPs and CDs for some kind of divine inspiration when Crowley sauntered into the store like he owned the place. He tried to ignore his presence completely, perusing the Monkeys and disregarding the Beatles, wondering if he could muster the courage to show the band the little arrangement he was working on. He highly doubted Crowley even remembered him. He was chatting away with the shop assistant amicably, then casted a wide glance over his sunglasses, apparently not recognizing Aziraphale out of his “costume”.
“Business seems slow today” he commented to Noah, who handed him some paper bag with his last request.
“Physical content is dying man; I get more customers who want to sell shit than buy it. Sometimes I feel like I’m just keeping a copy of every album in case the Internet falls downs completely and all music is lost” the shopkeeper sighed.
“You can always rely on cover bands, tough. Where would they get their material from if not from second-hand music stores? Hello there, by the way” he added nonchalantly. Aziraphale cursed under his breath and pushed himself to look back over the stacks of CDs.
“Nice parting present, the dookie. Very punk of you” the short man said curtly, not moving from where he was standing. Crowley raised his arms dramatically and stepped closer.
“Well, we were just trying to encourage you to cover Green Day’s biggest hits. After all Gabriel is a Basket Case and you’re just a bunch of Burnouts. It only seemed fitting” Noah tried to stifle a loud chuckle but Aziraphale didn’t mind him. He wasn’t in the mood for pettish rows today. He rolled his eyes and left a couple of CDs already chosen in a pile.
“You should apply some of that wit to your lyrics, they’re almost as appalling as the smell of your shit” Crowley blinked a couple of times and placed his left hand over his “wounded” heart but smiled a sly smile anyways. Aziraphale tried to turn for the door but his feet seem to be stuck to the ground.
“I will concede that Beelzebub’s lyrics and feces are equally smelly” he commented lightheartedly once he was close enough to inspect Aziraphale’s discarded music.
“Glad we can agree on something” the shorter man huffed as he started to walk towards the door.
“We might also agree that this look suits you much better” the taller one quirked an eyebrow and removed his glasses to fully appreciate the back of the other moving towards the door. Aziraphale stopped in his tracks, trying to contain himself “I do wonder what someone like you is doing in a rock band anyway, you look like a librarian who dabbles in a Satanist cult as a side hobby”
That was a low blow. Aziraphale’s shoulders dropped for a second before he straightened his whole body as he opened the door.
“Thank you for the compliment. I’d rather work in a library than a dumpster” he hissed before slamming the door closed. A storm started pouring outside.
Chapter 4: Golgotha
Wherein there is a bar row between The Fallen and Flaming Swords, Jesus is gets the worst part and two idiots enjoy puns.
In Golgotha, things became ugly. Gabriel and Beelzebub had been arguing heatedly with the bar owner, Jesus. The man was trying to appease both of them without any success as the rest of the group members looked at each other menacingly across the room. There was a mix-up, someone had booked them both at the same time, same day. Jesus called Judas twice before giving up and cancelling them both for the night. Hastur wouldn’t take any of it, he smashed a client’s glass against a nearby wall and Hell broke loose.
Crowley watched from a corner, trying not to interfere with angry patrons, his own bandmates who were trashing the place or the Flaming Swords that kept harassing Jesus in an embarrassing way. Aziraphale seemed to be avoiding taking any side as well, contemplating the scene with a disgruntled expression. He looked like a Billie Joe Armstrong look alike again, this time in the red tie, black shirt and embellished, spiked belt. They regarded each other across the bustling room for a moment, both feeling quite appalled about their bands’ behavior. Crowley approached him casually, like an afterthought. Aziraphale flinched a bit but didn’t move from his spot.
“What do you reckon Jesus is gonna do about this mess?” Crowley asked absentmindedly. The bar owner has just received a punch close to his right eye.
“He might turn the other cheek” the other half-joked. Crowley couldn’t help the smile.
“Maybe he though since he could multiply the bread and fish, he could also multiply the bands performing” he shrugged, containing the laughter.
“The paths of the Lord are ineffable. One day you’re a successful business owner and the next Judas fucks the lineup and the patrons throw chairs over the stage” they narrowly missed one headed in their direction, smirking all the way.
Chapter 5: Rome
A turning point in the story. After many months of the same dynamic, Flaming Swords becomes popular thanks to one of their original songs. Crowley hears the song on the radio for the first time and has mixed feelings.
He decides to check the band live, bathroom stalls are way too small to contain all of his feelings.
After Golgotha’s disaster, Sodoma- the LGTBQ nightclub- is almost burnt to the ground by Sandalphon’s ire when the Fallen tinker with their speakers and Dionysius, the live music bar, has a similar undertaking in Michael and Ligur’s wake. It goes on like this for some months where both bands are called to perform the same night at different time slots or at close venues. Crowley and Aziraphale always find a way not to get involved in the mess, and every single time, they find each other. They indulge in small talk and jabs; they laugh at their bandmates and themselves. Quite simply, they enjoy each other’s company over loud music and band brawls.
A little more than a year has gone by when he first hears Rome. Crowley is positively fuming when he first learns that the song on the radio was an original from none other than Flaming motherfucking Swords. In what world did Gabriel write that? He wouldn’t even know how to begin to! Have they hired someone new? Had Boss come back?
Beelzebub, Hastur, Ligur and Dogon didn’t think much of it, they considered a hit on the radio was too mainstream for a punk group. They weren’t impressed by the subtle lyrics whose main theme was the fall of an empire as a metaphor for falling in love. They called it cliché and bland.
Crowley listened to the song at least ten times in a row, trying hard to agree with the group: although the sound is fast paced and the guitar solos are powerful, the song could have been a sappy ballad from The Fray just as well. It just clicked into his brain, like the last piece of the puzzle that couldn’t be found but was just right under your nose.
It was Aziraphale’s.
He didn’t have any proof but neither did he harbor any doubts.
He made a quick search on Google. The Flaming Swords were performing tomorrow at the Nile. Crowley wondered briefly if he should confer with the Fallen and decided not to, they might cause mayhem again and he wasn’t entirely sure why he was going himself anyway.
The place was bigger than the clubs where they usually performed but at least it wasn’t specially packed, a good amount of curious who had heard their single on the radio and decided to check the rest of their songs live. Crowley positioned himself far from the first rows and tried to blend in as much as possible.
The crowd started to cheer when the members of the band came up the stage. Gabriel made a small introduction before the performance. Crowley took no notice of him, much more interested in the man to his left, fiddling with his bass absently. His hair was different, less gel and more of a natural curl that looked quite effortless, right off the bed. The eyes still were heavy on eyeshadow and eyeliner but they had gone for a soft blue that accented the greenish hue in Aziraphale’s gaze and quite frankly, made him glow like a fucking angel. The clothes were still black and tight but there were no fake tattoos or spiky accessories on sight, just clean, simple black tight jeans and a sleeveless shirt.
Crowley started to question himself. Why did he even come? What did it matter Aziraphale had written one song out of 20 for the band? What was he supposed to do, anyway, chastise him for composing a good song for his own band? Or did he rather feel like praising him? He didn’t even hear the title of the first song, but the movement of people on his surroundings got him out of his reverie. He needed to get out of there. He fought his way to the exit and was able to reach the wall opposite the stage. He lingered there for a moment, looking at the band for just a second before locating the way out.
It was just a blip in time, but it was enough. They locked eyes through a room full of people chanting the damned song. Aziraphale smiled brightly at him and him alone. Crowley felt his knees weaken. Good God, what was happening?
Gabriel was singing about the fall of Adriano’s wall; Crowley was glued to the floor. The song came to an end, the crowd clapped and roared passionately. Crowley felt like crying.
The next song wasn’t half as good and the third was acceptable if maybe too reliant on repetition. For some unfathomable reason, Crowley hadn’t moved at all ever since Rome. Gabriel announced this was their last song before the break.
Crowley wandered around the back of the room, looking for a door that led somewhere quiet to think. He found the bathroom.
The faint sound of music was still very much present but muffled by the stalls.
He wasn’t sure how long he had been locked inside, breathing fast with his eyes closed but there was a knock on the door that brought him back to Earth.
“Piss off” he shouted at whomever was at the other side. “Can’t you see my feet? It’s taken!”
“Sorry, I thought a spy was tapping our songs from the bathroom” the voice from the other side joked.
“Crowley, are you okay?” Aziraphale asked when the only answer was a soft thud inside the stall.
“Yeah, I’m just knocking myself out against the fucking door, thank you very much” he remarked dryly. He did not want to have this conversation at all. He didn’t know what to say.
“Can I come in?” the other asked in concern. Crowley opened the door abruptly and Aziraphale precipitated head first into the stall, losing his footing when the door he was leaning on moved suddenly.
The space was cramped and the door closed behind them, swinging slightly in its hinges. Crowley stood up from the toilet seat at once, catching Aziraphale by the shoulders before he could trip any further inside.
“Hello, it’s been a while!” he greeted with his cheeks colored and still trying to balance his own weight.
“Yeah, well, I see you have been busy” Crowley scowled a bit, looking over his shoulder rather than anywhere else.
“Oh, yes! It was nice of you to come to our first headliner concert. I wasn’t expecting you here, well, I thought maybe you and The Fallen would come just to rattle things up a little but it’s just you….” he wouldn’t stop talking, not caring much about the tight space or the fact that Crowley was still holding him by the shoulders.
“It’s just me” Crowley confirmed, letting go of the other’s body and closing his eyes behind dark sunglasses. “I just came to see what all the fuss was about. Had to lock myself here to escape from that torture” Aziraphale blinked.
“You don’t like it?” he asked under his breath.
“Bland and cliché pop-rock whose sole purpose is to rile up teens rabid for a shag? Not much. I’d say, Nickelback did better” that was definitely not what he had meant to say but he still wasn’t clear on what he actually meant to say or do anyway.
“Right. You would think that” Aziraphale sighed, furrowing his brow and biting his bottom lip slightly before turning his back on him and opening the door again, exiting quickly and quietly.
“What was I supposed to say?!” Crowley yelled as he left the room. No one answered but it was rhetorical anyway.
Chapter 6: The Round Table
The success of Rome only brings pressure on Aziraphale to keep composing but after his meeting with Crowley in the Nile, he is not willing to write anymore songs. His bandmates are relentless until one day, he snaps.
Also known as the chapter where Crowley saves Aziraphale's ass.
- The Round Table
Two months. It’d been two months since the Nile gig and Flaming Swords is on the raise. Gabriel and Michael’s songs weren’t especially well received by fans but Rome had been on the top 20 of different hit parades lists over the course of the last 2 weeks and other 3 songs that had been composed collaboratively were also fan favorites. A promoter had held a meeting with them to discuss the possibility of recording a whole studio album. Problem was, all the other songs in the playlist didn’t hold a candle or had an altogether different vibe to the one that had made them quasi-famous.
Gabriel couldn’t hide his contempt for much longer, his ego was quite bruised after months of writing and not getting anywhere… And Aziraphale had composed a top 20 on his first shot. He was relentless in his criticism.
The song was catchy, he would give him that, reminiscent of My Chemical Romance on their Three Cheers for a Revenge period, but it was literally a one hit wonder. The bass player had been pressured to the point of harassment to produce something new but the members endeavors only succeeded in making him even more adamant in not even attempting it again.
He was willing enough to do it after Rome’s first introduction in the radio but something in between that and their concert at Nile had changed his mind completely. Uriel and Michael had their own theories about a certain person who shall not be named in Gabriel’s presence and how upset Aziraphale came back from the men’s urinary but it was all conjecture. He wouldn’t fraternize with those…demons, would he? Ridiculous.
The producer kept pressuring them and in accordance, they kept pressuring the bass player, as a consequence, Aziraphale started to retreat into himself until one day he just imploded. Not literally, but almost. The mild-mannered man never looked like the type to blow up so disproportionately for a bit of bullying, but he really let them have it. They all contemplated in astonishment as he unveiled all the ugly truths they have been tiptoeing around for the last year and then he left the room without any prompting. No one followed him or tried to fight back his accusations; they just stared silently at him and then at the closed door.
Aziraphale felt the blood pumping through his veins, the loud thumping of his heart way too quick and his breath too short. The heat of July was only making matters worse so he entered the first local he found and orders a pint, trying to calm himself down by slowing his breathing to the local’s music rhythm. Oh, great. They were playing Rome on MTV, blasting through the 4 screens available for customers. He planned to down his drink as quick as possible and get the hell out of there when he saw Beelzebub pleading to the barman. Did he come alone to try to convince the barman on a show or did the whole group accompany him in hopes of playing that night? Aziraphale started to sweat profusely when he spotted Dagon near the small scenery and Ligur pushed his way in with the sound equipment. They were all here, then. He rose from the stool and left a 5 pound note behind to pay for the beer he hadn’t touched.
He rushed to the door at the same time Hastur came in carrying the keyboard. The three of them- Hastur, Aziraphale and the keyboard- wound up in a heap on the floor, creating such a ruckus even the most distracted patron from the Round Table turned their heads towards them.
Hastur started to curse and threaten him under his breath, Aziraphale closed his eyes instinctively, waiting for the other musicians to beat the hell out of him. After a few seconds when nothing happened, he opened them again to find the other man standing up in a heated argument with Crowley.
“Rise that ass, you great southern pansy” the bartender shouted at him from the counter. He stood up quickly, as if the floor were burning his clothes, looking for the exit before it was too late. He felt disoriented and parched, like he had been walking through a dessert for a long time.
“So sorry, I wasn’t trying to…” he bumped against Crowley, whose stern face was still fixated on Hastur.
“…look where you step instead of banging every door…!” the bass player kept shouting at his bandmate.
“That oaf was the one charging against the door like a bull” the other screamed back.
“It’s all my fault, really” Aziraphale interfered, pushing himself between the two band members whose eyes seemed to spark with contained resentment.
“Get out of the way” Crowley hissed nervously.
“What? No way! I’m sure we can all find a way to solve…” he insisted vehemently, still trying to think straight and wondering, not for the first time, how the hell had he landed onto that situation.
“Step back!” Crowley warned seconds before Hastur threw the first punch. The shorter man watched in awe as the fist approached his cheek but landed on Crowley’s stretched hand instead. “Get the fuck out!” he commanded. This time around, Aziraphale ran towards the door as quick as his legs let him.
“Thank you” he mouthed towards Crowley before leaving for good.
Chapter 7: The Globe
In which Crowley attends his nephew's play and bumps into a familiar face.
He should have known by now his sister was going to take any chance to embarrass him.
- The Globe
To be or not to be, that’s the question, whether is nobler in the mind…
Crowley hated Shakespeare. Especially the gloomy ones. He could bare Midsummer’s Night and the Taming of the Shrew but he absolutely loathed Hamlet. And still, he was watching his 11-year-old nephew recite the soliloquy with such dexterity and emotion, he -almost- let an indiscreet tear roll down his cheek.
He clapped along at the end of the play and even hooted for his nephew a “wahoo” that was echoed around the auditory. He still hated the damn play.
His sister begged him to wait for little Adam to come out of stage and so he hung in the school hallway, listening to her proud babbling.
Ofelia had a lovely uncle who had been rehearsing with the kids for the last weeks and had improved much their diction and rhythm. He was a nice-looking fella, apparently, single if a bit pudgy and a bass player just like Crowley and look! He had just stepped out of the auditory!
Not again. Crowley moaned internally as his gaze followed his sister’s direction just to see Aziraphale taking a photo of both Ophelia and Hamlet -still in costume- while praising their work on the play. It had been 3 weeks since Mr. Shadwell banned The Fallen from his establishment and Crowley ended up with a stitched eyebrow and a bruised cheek, Hastur had his nose broken in return.
“Let’s say hi” she said excitedly, virtually manhandling him towards the kids.
“Oh Pepper, you were wonderful” she cooed once they were close enough for hearing. The little girl smiled proudly.
“Uncle Tony, you really came!” Adam exclaimed with bright eyes, quickly tackling the man and leaving him breathless.
“Tony?” Aziraphale asked disbelievingly, petting lightly Pepper’s hair. A devious smile was forming in the corner of his lips.
“So, you do know Mr. Fell” Deidre Young interceded, raising both eyebrows at his brother.
“Vaguely” Crowley mumbled at the same time he tried to detach himself from Adam.
“We have met once or twice” Aziraphale added nonchalantly, looking at his niece’s dress rather than the man in front of him.
“Well, and here I was thinking I had finally found someone decent to settle down my mess of a brother” she laughed absentmindedly, shaking her head lightly “serves me right for playing the matchmaker! He did seem your type when you were younger, Tony…” she kept digging his grave deeper and deeper, his cheeks must be scarlet at this point and his hands were clenching with the need to choke her.
“Crowley, my name is Crowley!” he snarled at her while containing his embarrassment.
“Oh, excuse me, my lord! I forgot your majesty had a bad boy image to tend to. I do hope that you have treated Mr. Fell with respect up until now. He has been fantastic with the children and your crowd is coarser than straw knickers” Crowley was about to tell her off when Aziraphale looked up from her niece and replied to Crowley’s sister.
“He’s been nothing but a gentleman, last time we met he fended off a very angry guitar player who tried to punch me” he confided to her, still not looking anywhere close to Crowley’s direction.
“Is that so…?” she asked in a hush, as if they were sharing the latest school gossip.
“Okay, I think that’s enough” Crowley huffed, finally disentangling from Adam’s grip and shooting daggers at his sister.
“Excuse me Tony, your sister is just delightful to talk to” the other man stated with a joking tone that let the taller one know he was doomed to be referred as such for eternity.
“She’s even more delightfully when she keeps her pie hole closed, Zira” Crowley mocked, losing the little patience he had left. Aziraphale’s face turned pink and he coughed lightly in an attempt to hide his face from their audience but Pepper was too close to be fooled.
“Zira and Tony, sitting in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G” she started to sing-song, prompting Adam to join in.
Kill me now
I'll publish two more chapters on Thursday and from then on, I'll publish one every two days because the chapters are quite lengthy.
Chapter 8: Bastille
The Fallen accept a gig that might be their make it or break it moment and need to be focussed but Crowley is very distracted by Flaming Sword's absence during the last months and more specifically, he is worried about a certain bass player.
A groupie turns up at the concert, he'd like to meet afterwards -Beelzebub and Dagon are not pleased by what they see.
*Warnings: self-hate, anxiety, hurt-comfort
“Bastille called back” Beelzebub proclaimed, hanging up the phone and raising his left fist in a celebratory manner.
“The festival? No, they didn’t” Ligur snorted, rolling his eyes while tapping a slow rhythm in the drums.
“They did! They had a last-minute opening because some band just dropped from the list” Everyone stared at Beelzebub, waiting for the shoe to drop “I’m serious, they just confirmed we need to be there at 6 today to prepare the tarp and equipment ourselves but who cares? We are performing at Bastille!” Dagon blinked twice, Hastur and Ligur high-fived, Crowley let out a surprised chuckle.
“Who the hell drops from Bastille anyway?” Ligur shook his head, it was the first time Crowley saw his lips close to a smile.
“That’s the best part” Beelzebub confides, trying to hide their excitement but utterly failing “The Flaming Dorks had some kind of break down, they must have broken a nail or hit a toe with a table, but they dropped their spot!” there’s a general uproar of hooting, cheering and obscene words dedicated to the other band.
The atmosphere is full of energy and enthusiasm, everyone is packing bags and making arrangements, tinkering with their playlist.
Once everything is set on the tarp, they start to rehearse the tricky bits. Crowley can’t get Beelzebub's words out of his mind, though the part about the other band breaking down and all that. It would have been a dream come true a year ago. As things were at the moment, he was somehow worried. The band was quite popular around 4 months ago but he hasn’t heard anything from them in quite a while -not that he’s been looking.
The last time he saw Aziraphale, at Adam’s play, he seemed to be doing just fine but then again, Crowley scarcely knew the man at all. They had exchanged glances and some smiles; they had bickered quite a lot, flirted in the most awkward way possible and… that was it. There were no mobile phones or late-night dates, just the veiled promised that they would find each other in another absurd situation caused by their bandmates sooner rather than later.
Beelzebub shrieked like a cat, Dagon sent him a stern look, Ligur and Hastur cursed him loudly. They had been rehearsing “Snake at the M25” for the last 15 minutes and Crowley kept losing his cue.
“I swear to fucking Satan, if you screw up one more time…” Beelzebub threatened him, at the edge of losing his cool.
“You wrote this shit, how the fuck do you keep losing the cue?!” Dagon shouted at the same time. Hastur dropped the electric guitar to the floor, past the point of words.
“Would you shut your trap, morons? I keep trying to concentrate but Ligur’s tempo is screwing me up” Crowley deflected, causing the offended to raise from the stool and quickly approach him with furious eyes. The rest of the members tackled him before he reached Crowley, who left the stage leaping into the ground below.
“Where the Hell is he going? Is this motherfucker quitting on us?!” Hastur hollered, kicking the drums angrily.
“I will kill him in his sleep. How are we performing without the damn bass?” Ligur kept trying to get away from the other’s restrain.
“He just needs to breath. He’ll come back… I think” Dagon anxiously croaked.
Meanwhile, Crowley felt like throwing up then and there. What was he thinking? Focus, just focus on the music, FOCUS. He inhaled and exhaled a couple times, keeping his eyes tightly shut. When he opened them again, he saw a food stand in the distance, calling like a siren. He approached it with the intention of downing some gin or vodka, or whatever booze they had that wasn’t as expensive as his rent.
He approached the queue and tried his best not to be annoyed by the customers who took too long to order. He wasn’t in a hurry to come back to the stage anyway.
“Tony…? I mean, Crowley?” a male voice chirped from the middle of the queue.
“What are you doing here?” Crowley inquired over the sound of the customers. He didn’t want to lose his spot in the damn line and he was worried someone might get violent if he tried to skip it to Aziraphale’s place.
“I came to see you!” He yelled back. What he just said downed on him and he quickly backpedaled “I mean The Fallen! I’ve come to see the Fallen!”
“Weren’t you guys supposed to perform today?” the taller one asked, quite astonished and frankly, having forgotten why he was in the queue anyway. The shorter man extricated himself from his place and left the space free for the next customers, approaching him.
“Our songs are bland pop-rock shit anyway, who cares?” he shrugged when he placed himself to his right. Crowley cursed inwardly. He was throwing it back at him, that night at the Nile.
“Rome was on the top of lists for 2 weeks straight, not too shabby for a soppy love song” the taller man begrudgingly admitted.
“Rome was shit. I wrote it and I hate it passionately; I don’t know what I was thinking. I’m not a rock star, I’m as soft as cheese” Aziraphale’s words were so contemptuously said that Crowley felt like something akin to a blow to his gut.
“The first time I saw you, you pinned me against a wall and the second you implied my band’s songs were worse than literal shit. You cannot spell spunk without punk” Crowley remarked without heat, looking towards the queue rather than to his side.
“You know, that’s the first nice thing you’ve ever said to me” Aziraphale disclosed, bumping his left arm against Crowley’s right.
“I’m not nice, I’m a demon” the other scowled, refusing to look anywhere but the mohawked guy just before them on the line.
“WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING, ASSHOLE!” Hastur yelled louder than thunder. Apparently, he had been looking for their bass player for quite a while and took his relaxed stance as a chance to sneak up on him and scare the crap out of both of them. He gripped Crowley’s shirt and yanked him backwards without any regard for anything or anyone. “WE’RE STARTING IN 40 MINUTES AND YOU JUST FELT LIKE A HOTDOG?!” the bass player went limp as he was dragged back to the stage, not feeling like reeling the other more than necessary.
Crowley had to endure the most intense berate of his life, but the band needed him if they were going to perform at all, so they let it slide and moved on with the rehearsal.
The concert was kind of a success. People came still thinking it was the Flaming Swords performing but some of them stayed anyway. They weren’t very receptive at first but around the fourth song, more and more people started to jump and dance, by the seventh many of them were chanting the chorus and in the end, they received an ovation from the audience. There must have been 80 people tops but they were happy with the discovery -Crowley couldn’t wait to rub their bandmates faces on the fact that his less explicit and witty rewrites were the ones to thank for their triumph.
Aziraphale stuck like a sore thumb in the crowd; his brown straight trousers, cream blazer and white shirt -he even wore a tartan bow tie. Who does that?- were like a beacon to his eyes in a sea of black, crimson red and purple. He stayed around the middle rows and cheered at the end of every song, the rest of the crowd seemed annoyed by his enthusiasm, especially when he hollered “C’mon Fallen, buck up!!” in the middle of their second song. Crowley felt mortified in a way he hadn’t experienced since his mum and sister decided to shout hottie during his first performance with Heaven in a small-town pub.
Crowley can feel the heat rising to his cheeks when he realizes that although most people have vacated the tarp already, Aziraphale is still hanging in a corner, holding his neatly folded blazer on his right arm. What was he even doing? Did he think they were 15 all of the sudden? Any of the Fallen could have recognized him and he was lucky they hadn’t done so already -it must have been the fact that they haven’t seen him in ages and never out of his “rock costume” as Crowley liked to referred to it in his mind.
He zipped the bass and discreetly left the stage through the back, quickly making his way into the ground. He strutted with big steps towards the corner where the other man looked at his surroundings nervously. Aziraphale smiled sideways, both mischievously and coy in a way that should be banned or at least should be a tag in porn sites where Crowley was concerned. The taller man grabbed the shorter’s arm, pushing him out of the tarp and into some kind of alleyway between stages, shocking him enough for Aziraphale not to make a sound until they were properly hidden. Crowley exhaled a sigh of relief and then let go of the other’s arm, facing him completely. They were so close he could sense the little puffs of air leaving the other’s lips, trying to catch his breath after the sprint.
“What are you doing?!” he exclaimed then, losing all the pretense of stealth or composure. His sunglasses were sliding down due to the sweat and his hair was loosening from his usually iron clad coiffed.
“I already told you, I’ve come to see the band play…” the other replied, blinking, a little disoriented “You were great, by the way! The songs have improved much since I….” Crowley stopped him in his tracks, not interested in half-baked answers or excuses.
“What I meant is: why have you come today? Out of all days? Out of all the gigs? How did you even know we were playing here? And why the fuck were you waiting there like a cardboard figure? Anyone could have recognized you and I’m not taking any more punches for your pretty face, angel” he spit out all the words that had been stuck for hours in his mind and tongue, he didn’t even know if what he was saying made any sense at all. The other musician frowned a bit before reaching his hands to remove Crowley’s sunglasses from the tip of his nose. He didn’t say anything, just folded them carefully and placed them in his jeans’ front pocket.
“I…” Aziraphale started, voice low and wavering. He stilled himself a moment and looked at Crowley directly in the eye. This time, his demure was slow and careful “I’m quitting Flaming Swords, I think… It doesn’t make sense anymore and it was never for me in the first place… I knew you were playing because I asked the manager to offer you guys the spot when we came to cancel… And I thought I made myself quite clear, dear, I was waiting for you. Sorry if I was a burden or if your bandmates make a mockery out you for hanging out with such a pathetic excuse for a musician but I guess I just wanted to say goodbye”
“You are not going anywhere” the taller man ordered, although strangely, it sounded more like a plea.
“The decision is already made. I cannot keep dealing with… all of this. It’s too much. I never asked for any of it, I just wanted to play the bass and maybe compose something someone might dance to during their wedding. Something someone might feel reflected into. I really thought I could do that but I can’t, it’s too much…” the last part was practically a sob. The anger inside of Crowley kept raising.
“You need to stop that. This second” he commanded harshly, not letting any room for disagreement “I don’t know what game you think you’re playing but it needs to stop. You think I’m gonna go soft on you ‘cause you keep repeating how worthless you and your music are? Well, guess what? I’m not! You must know, deep in your gut, that the song you wrote was the best damn thing Heaven, or the Fallen or the Flaming Dorks have ever performed. You know that! You don’t need anyone to tell you that, it was in every fucking radio station, in every music program, in every dang TV in the country and you are here, crying like a little bitch saying you want to quit? Do know how long I’ve wanted to perform something like that? How much I’ve sacrificed to be in a radio station at all? Don’t come here and tell me you can’t write something meaningful. You already did! You have been playing with those guys for a year and you put that band in the map all on your own. Stop fooling yourself, or them, or me. Own the fact that you are good and keep at it.” He knew, then and there, this was exactly what he meant to say that night in the crammed toilet stall, the reason why he had gone to that concert at all. He was so jealous of the clueless guy who couldn’t even keep his tattoos in the same position two times in a row, the same guy that kept drawing him in only to leave him hanging every. Single. Fucking. Time. The same guy whose life seemed naturally intertwined with his. Whose contained tears were stabbing, wounding, breaking him apart.
How dare you he kept chanting in his head how dare you think so low of yourself when I cannot rise to the level of your knees. How dare you think you are soft when you have the courage to do what I cannot. How dare you think that you are so little when I can see how tall you stand. How very dare you think I could love someone I was embarrassed of. How could you even think I wouldn’t absolutely adore a song you wrote for me?
Aziraphale hid his face behind his own arms, running fingers through his hair while scraping his scalp a little. He tried to articulate something but it was mostly gibberish that sounded vaguely like “phony”, “fake”, “stupid” and “coward”. Crowley could barely contain the need to embrace him and whisper sweet nothings to his ear but he knew too well that the other man was already overwhelmed as it were and as much as he wanted to shout at him the rest of the thoughts that kept racing through his brain, he was certain that it wasn’t going to help either.
“I’m so-sorry” the shorter man managed to let out between sobs. His fingers left his hair and slid downwards, covering his eyes as he regulated his breathing “I’m aware that Gabriel and the rest were counting on me. I’ve failed them and that’s why I intend to leave, they keep expecting something from me that I’m incapable of giving. Please excuse me for my behavior, your band has struggled a lot to be where you are and the quality of music shouldn’t be based on its following, I’m quite sure you will make it into charts somewhere in the near future. This is not a competition and for me to be here whining about…”
“No one said you were whinnying” Crowley interjected quickly, trying to defuse the situation. The other man dropped his hands and looked at him with the most devastatingly sad expression he had ever witnessed.
“Oh, but I am. I shouldn’t have come in the first place. Everyone must be looking for you and I’m keeping you from going out and celebrating by having some kind of fit. You had a great night I’m spoiling it with my stupid drama that has absolutely nothing to do with you. I need to go” Aziraphale kept babbling and tried to make a turn for the alleyway’s end but the other musician grabbed his left forearm gently, pleading with his bare golden eyes.
“Could you stay?” he asked, so softly the other could barely hear him over the sound of adjacent concerts. “For me. Just… Stay” Aziraphale stopped on his tracks, not budging from the slight touch.
“Here?” he asked weakly, gesturing with his head to the waste bins to each side of them.
“You’re just a clueless bastard, you know that, right?” Crowley smirked while shaking his head in disbelief.
“Yeah well, I wasn’t the one being a flirty asshole and pushing people into bathroom stalls just to tell them their songs suck” Aziraphale retorted while rolling his eyes. They were no longer teary, although his cheeks were red and a bit puffy.
“No, you were the damsel in distress that was too busy running someplace else to stop and thank the prince properly” was the easy comeback. Crowley was still holding his clothed arm and felt a little emboldened to caress it lightly over the shirt, priding himself in the soft sight he was able to garner for it.
“Oh, so you’re a prince now” the shorter man looked bemused while he turned the softly seized arm to be able to grip Crowley’s in a similar way, letting his hand wander over bare skin.
“I’d rather be king but I’m still too young and unwedded” the lanky man joked, feeling goosebumps with the way Aziraphale kept running his nails softly.
“If you keep being this boisterous, no one will be willing to break the spell, you big damn frog” he pinched him lightly and dropped the hold altogether.
“Is that a challenge or a proposition?” Crowley was quick this time, taking both hands in his and drawing the smaller musician in against his body.
“Smug bastard” Aziraphale breathed against his lips, not quite touching.
“Librarian wannabe” the other retorted before closing in and capturing his open mouth, ready to retaliate. It was teeth clashing at first, hungry and rough and way too much to handle in that moment Crowley tried to step back but was only met with the other pulling him in by biting his lower lip. Oh god, this was gonna be over before it started. He slipped his tongue into Aziraphale’s mouth, slow and subtle, caressing his shallowly before the other entangled them both in a battle of dominance. It was so forceful his knees were starting to give out. How could a shorter, mild, less physically fit guy command a kiss that way? He extricated himself to breathe properly, moving backwards without noticing they had been fumbling quite a bit, tripping over the trash cans and falling along with two of them.
The sound of tin clanging was so loud that Crowley could only appreciate Aziraphale laughing for the open smile on his face and the movement of his chest rising and falling endearingly. He bent down to offer his hand when Beelzebub and Dagon came in rushing into the alleyway.
The four of them were frozen on the spot. Dagon was the first to speak.
“So that’s where you were, you disloyal fuck! If you are picking up groupies, you better finish packing up our shit in the van before running to the dumpster to fuck his brains out!” he scolded without stepping in further, covering their eyes for effect.
“This is the last time I let you get away with something like this” Beelzebub said irritably, looking at the garbage spilled on the floor rather than at them. “Let’s go” he commanded, turning his back away to leave. Dagon followed suit.
“That was close” Crowley sighed, grabbing the other’s hand to balance himself on his feet.
“They didn’t even recognize me” Aziraphale blinked, quite shocked still.
“You’re wearing your grandpa’s clothes and they were 3 feet away. Of course, they didn’t know it was you” the taller one scoffed, while brushing his pants in a hopeless attempt to dust them, if nothing else. There were ketchup and other suspicious stains all over them. He smelled like cigarettes, booze and puke combined with some marihuana. Which made even more surprising that Aziraphale kissed him full on the lips, gentler this time, and offered invitingly.
Chapter 9: St. James
After the events of the last chapter, Aziraphale and Crowley share a meal and break into a park, but there is still something that needs to be discussed.
In which birds are disturbed, long painful conversations are held and everyone is a little scared of their feelings.
Warnings: self-hate, lack of confidence, fear of abandonment, anxiety, idiots in love are IDIOTS, angst, cowards, mentions of Celine Dion.
- St. James
The only place open at 23:30 on a Thursday night is 24h café who doesn’t serve crepes what a travesty! The waiter is not too fond of Crowley’s smell or the stains all over his clothes, so he is forced to sit over several napkins covering the chair in order not to damage the -frankly, quite beaten already- tapestry.
They order coffee and chips and spend more time than they would care to admit waiting for the right moment to reach inside the bowl just for their fingers to brush. They keep bantering and smiling for long hours before the waiter scoffs at them looking poignantly at the clock and their finished orders. They split the check and walk side by side, not quite touching, until they pass the threshold and fill their lungs with fresh air only encountered during the wee hours.
The street was quiet and Crowley kept smelling like rotten fish but the stench was less distinguishable in the open. It’s 3:45, which means they have spent approximately four hours avoiding this conversation, skirting it masterfully the topic of music, bands or anything remotely close. They did talk about ducks, and old cars, and the Golden Girls, and Agnes Nutter, who happened to be Aziraphale’s crazy landlord who had built an empire out of weirdly specific and accurate predictions and who also happened to be Anathema’s grandmother; Anathema being Crowley’s neighbor and -kind of- only friend since high school. They could have stayed like that, bickering and joking and just together for an eternity, but Crowley’s phone buzzed in his pocket. He looked directly into the others eyes as he picked it up.
It was Beelzebub. He had left a thousand texts – what do you want the phone for if not to check your motherfucking messages? Dick!- and decided to call to inform him that they had an impromptu gig the next week. Some club owner had spotted them at the festival and had been impressed enough to contact that same night. Crowley hung up promptly, reassuring he’d be at their rehearsal at noon but it was already 3:57. The moment had shattered into pieces and reality settled in uncomfortably.
“I think it’s time to go home” Aziraphale stated sadly, almost longingly.
“We’re near to the park, let’s feed the ducks” the other suggested brightly. The other man tsked his tongue and looked away.
“It must be closed. They’re probably asleep anyway, and you need to be early for rehearsal and…” Crowley held his hand, his eyes adamant.
“We’re going to the park” he decided, leading the way with Aziraphale’s hand still enclosed in his. Of course, it was closed, it was 4:15 in the morning! But that wasn’t going to deterred the taller man, who kneeled on the ground and offered both his hands intertwined to the shorter one. He looked at the fence and then his hands in quick succession, not quite sure his companion was on his right mind at all.
“You want us to break into St. James Park?!” Aziraphale asked bewildered.
“Oh, please. You are the bass of a rock band, live a little!” Crowley encouraged from the floor.
“No way, I’m not doing this. I just can’t. What if my trousers get stuck on it? What if I fall and break a leg? What if the police arrest us? What if…?” he kept running scenarios where he ended up in hospital, naked or in jail and only a couple of them actually looked like fun.
“Do you trust me?” Crowley asked charmingly, vaguely reminding Aziraphale that he used to have the biggest crush for Aladdin when he was only a boy.
“NO!” Aziraphale croaked, completely terrified.
“Okay” the kneeling man said slowly, raising up from his position and expertly climbing through the main entrance wall “Then I guess you won’t need my help” he smiled wickedly sitting on the top while letting his legs swing.
“Don’t you dare leave me like this!” the one standing on the floor tried to imprint all the anger he could muster without actually yelling and attracting some curious neighbor’s gaze or even guards.
“Do you want me to help you, then?” Crowley offered jokingly.
“Yes! Yes! Alright!” Aziraphale finally agreed, face red with anger and embarrassment. The taller musician descended easily, as if he were some kind of reptile in another life- and resumed his previous position. The shorter man braced himself mentally before stepping on the other’s hands, feeling the trepidation as he was lightly elevated, being able to reach the wall’s ledge. He hung from it, unsure of what to do next until Crowley told him how to position to sit. He felt a little giddy while waiting there, almost on top of the world. When both of them were properly sitting, the process of going down went a little more smoothly.
They were alone in the park, as presumed at 4:35 a.m.
“Is there any particular reason why you have forced me to break into a public park before sunrise?” Aziraphale wheezed, his heart drumming faster than Ligur’s drums.
“I like ducks… Do you think they have ears? And really, there’s no way you’re scaping now until we have properly discussed the matter of the band” they both stopped in front of the pond, no ducks in sight.
“I already told you: I am leaving the Flaming Swords and it’s final. You don’t know how…” he cut himself in the middle of the sentence, realizing that Crowley might be the only other person who actually understood.
“Look, this is not about some group of assholes who pressure you until a breaking point: been there, done that. My band is just as fucked if you ask me, not the point either. Your song, Rome. It’s good. It doesn’t matter where you took the inspiration from…” he was rudely interrupted.
“Don’t flatter yourself” Aziraphale scowled, pushing his elbow to the other’s side lightly.
“So it is about me” Crowley drawled, wriggling his eyebrows in comically high.
“It’s about us” the musician confessed softly, leaving the other speechless. He wasn’t expecting to coax the truth so easily. The way Aziraphale said it sounded like the most obvious and natural thing in the world. Crowley rasped a little.
“It’s about us” he echoed, after swallowing some saliva “it’s not just good, is Celine Dion good”
“Do you even like Celine Dion?” the other man asked, flabbergasted.
“That’s so not where I’m going with this, but who doesn’t? Anyhow, I know I came off as total dickhead that night at Nile and I suspect you might suffer from some mild form of anxiety…” he was trying to be delicate this time around.
“Mild my ass” Aziraphale quipped.
“Okay, so you have a lot of anxiety and feel inadequate, I get that. I’m sorry if I contributed ‘cause, as stated, me and my band are usually jerks to everyone…” he was getting somewhere, the apology was there, now he needed to get to the proposal.
“Believe me, I know that. I realized that very quickly when we first met” was the sardonic quip.
“Yeah, sorry about that. It was rude. Crass even. So exactly what my band does every Sunday night but… That’s not me! Or you! We are not fastidious sticklers to the rulers or wasted vandals who think themselves revolutionaries. You and I, we are…” Crowley tried to look for just the right words but they were eluding him.
“Please don’t say Celine Dion” Aziraphale intercalated ironically.
“We’re neither here nor there. We are something different than anyone else. You don’t want to go back to Flaming Swords, I get that, and although highly arousing with the whole Billie Joe Armstrong aesthetic…” the shorter man chuckled, distracting him again.
“Aw, thank you. I did try” he teased, biting his lower lip enticingly. Crowley willed himself to stop looking at the lips and rather focus on his eyes to get across the rest of the message but it only dug his grave even deeper, momentarily baffled by the strangeness of the blue-green-graying color behind heavy lidded lashes. He swallowed some saliva before regaining his thoughts.
“Skinny dark jeans on that ass work marvels but that’s not the topic at hand” he veered before following the path where the night might have ended with a quick shag behind some bushes. “Your lyrics are… inspired and I like to think my arrangements are not too bad either.” Aziraphale was about to protest again his big head, but he placed a careful finger over the other’s lips, silencing him just a moment “You are not comfortable playing for a punk band, that’s quite clear from the very beginning. Nothing wrong with that! It’s just not you. I think the reason why you feel so out of depth is because you have never felt like you truly belonged there”
“You’re assuming quite a lot, I’m afraid” Aziraphale said sternly.
“Am I wrong?” Crowley scoffed, a little wounded.
“I was not comfortable at first and it wasn’t exactly the type of group I always dreamt of, but they took me under their wing and were open to my ideas. I know you think Gabriel is a total jackass” Crowley huffed and threw his arms in the air.
“Gabriel is a wanker” he proclaimed.
“He’s a good band leader, if maybe a little controlling and overbearing at times. He gave my song a shot although I had never written anything in that style before and everyone helped with the arrangements. You want to think I did that song by myself but I really didn’t. I gave them coal and together we polished it until it shone a little bit…” the taller one closed his eyes, listening to how passionately Aziraphale talked about the group that dumped his like yesterday’s trash was becoming unbearable.
“Why won’t you come back to them, if they are so perfect, then? What do you need my stamp of approval or a commendation from the Queen?” Crowley’s voice kept raising, scaring away some birds from nearby trees.
“I thought we were past this” the shorter one whispered, quietly.
“Past what exactly?” the other provoked, not completely sure why.
“You trying to push me away because you’re too scared of rejection” Aziraphale stated determinately, wearing a confident look that Crowley had never spotted before but fitted him better than the damn skinny jeans.
“Ah, that…” he acknowledged feebly. It was quiet for a moment, because really, what was there to say? They stared at each other, not moving an inch from the short distance that separated them. Crowley let his gaze down, looking at the ugly stains in his trousers rather than anything else.
“There’s something I need you to understand” Aziraphale said, measuring his words “This is no one’s fault but myself. It wasn’t you being hurtful or them pressuring me, it was me. I was blocked. I couldn’t think properly or play or write anything, I just needed space. But people were counting on me, there was this producer who wanted us to record an album and I just blew it for everyone. They kept pushing and I kept retreating and then I just exploded. The day on the Round Table, do you remember that?” Crowley pinched his nose, breathing heavily.
“My eyebrow remembers” he mumbled lowly.
“What? Did that savage hurt you?!” the other fretted angrily, lightly caressing his whole forehead in a quest to find scarring tissue.
“It was just a couple of stitches but I remember that day. You were a little… disconnected” the hands were directed to the right eyebrow that looked mostly perfect bust was actually concealed under heavy makeup. Aziraphale seemed to relax when he actually felt the coarse skin healing.
“I was so disoriented I barely came back home. And you know who was there, chatting to my landlady?” Crowley had a slight suspicion “It was Uriel. She was worried and she came to apologize” the taller one swatted away the hands still petting his forehead.
“Apologize? She doesn’t even speak half the time, and the other half is just veiled threats or snarky remarks” it was almost said in a hiss.
“She didn’t want to lose me as well. That’s what she said” Aziraphale shrugged slightly.
“Oh” was the baffled answer.
“Yeah, apparently she and Michael tried to make a case for you when Gabriel shut you off but you sent your goons to trash the place where we rehearse and they gave up” that sounded pretty judgy in Crowley’s opinion.
“I didn’t exactly send them, more like got them drunk and slightly encouraged them to have their fun in an abandoned room I happened to have a key for” that was a copout and more sarcastic than it should from Aziraphale’s perspective.
“How was that supposed to help in anyway?” he asked exasperatedly.
“I was angry and felt betrayed. What did you expect me to do?” the other justified, at the end of his tether.
“Nothing! You didn’t have to do anything, just be civil” the tone was rising with every turn.
“Oh, excuse me Mr. Civil. Weren’t you the one pushing people against walls for calling you names during a performance, where was your civility then?” the irony was oozing from every syllable.
“It’s pointless trying to speak to you” Aziraphale deadpanned, crossing his arms defensively.
Crowley nodded momentarily, scornfully before turning on his heel and heading for the nearest fence to get out of the park. This had been a terrible idea. He felt a strong grip of his hip, turning him around harshly.
“Don’t you dare walk away; you were the one that wanted to speak.” Aziraphale growled, not letting go of his hold. Crowley had never felt so aroused in his life.
“Fuck off” he snarled, not minding how badly his body felt like jumping the other’s bones.
“I said” Aziraphale gritted through his teeth, catching his chin with his other hand, forcing Crowley to look him in the eyes “that they were good to me. They have been patient and tried to make amends when I came back. But” he punctuated the last word and left a small pause, slightly loosening his grip “it didn’t really matter if you weren’t there. There was nothing I could write about anymore”
Crowley leaped at him rather than letting him finish his though, kissing like a bruise, burrowing his hands on the others hair, hanging on him like a sailor who holds onto the deck in the middle of a storm.
“Please, my dear, I need to say it, let me finish” Aziraphale gasped against his lips, bumping their noses softly.
“It’s too soon to finish already” Crowley quipped, grinding himself against the other body enticingly.
“I don’t want to come back to them if I’m going to lose you for it” the shorter man sighed, letting go of the hips where both hands had ended up grasping for dear life somewhere along the way. He left enough distance to see eye to eye.
“Who said you were going to lose anything or anyone for that matter?” the other blinked confusedly.
“You were literally sprinting away 5 minutes before. I know, deep down, you’re still hurt by…” Aziraphale did not need to finish the sentence.
“That has nothing to do with you” Crowley stated firmly, unwavering.
“They behaved poorly, you behaved worse. They way you resent them and they resent The Fallen is unbearable for me. I feel like the human personification of a buffer and all this pulling is breaking my seams. So, I decided to step away from both of you. You can keep hating them and they can keep undermining all of you, I don’t need to watch as you tear each other apart. I can find something else” he kept rambling, pocketing the shaky hands and lowering his vision to stop the tears from coming.
“So, you are done? Just like that? You’re giving up on them and… me?” the last word was so full of emotion, it felt like a physical blow to the stomach.
“I wasn’t even sure there was anything to give up. We bump into each other time after time but someone always gets hurt in the middle of it. Maybe we’re just not right for each other” Aziraphale let out the words as calm as someone who has accepted his own execution, as if it were inevitable.
“Why did you stay tonight, then? Why didn’t you just walk away when you had the chance? What are we doing here at 5 in the morning, drenched in waste and sweat and tears? Are you telling me it’s all for nothing?” Crowley demanded to know in disbelief.
“I am telling you it’s better for both of us…” a whisper, so mild and yet so painful.
“You don’t get to decide for me too. You don’t get to tell me that it’s not worth the heartache. We have shared this crazy little connection for almost two years, maybe it started the wrong way, maybe we have been waltzing around each other like two idiots stepping on each other’s feet but I have enjoyed every single second of the ride and I wouldn’t change it for the world” Aziraphale did not raise his gaze, not once. Crowley felt a tear leap from his bare eyes and whipped it furiously with a hand.
“Sorry” was the only answer.
“Yeah, I’m sorry too” Crowley sighed before turning back to the wall. This time, Aziraphale never stopped him, just stayed on the spot and watched him climb and disappear in the dim morning light.
I'll publish chapter 10 on Saturday, chapter 11 on Monday and chapters 12 and 13 on Wednesday.
This chapters are a little angsty and a little personal if I am being honest, so I hope Aziraphale has been relatable in some way because the kind of anxiety and self-hate he deals with is very ingrained in me. I can also tell you that although I am a coward, I always end up fighting for what really matters to me and I find the way to fight against my own anxiety so expect Aziraphale to do the same.
Chapter 10: The Blizt
In which the myth of star crossed lovers is debunked, a 11 year old outsmarts his uncle, an original song is sung, some beers are spilled, a drum set is almost dropped and determination triumphs over fear.
WARNINGS: -poorly written- Smut (the last part of the chapter, you can see where things are getting heated and step away from it easily), sassy 11 year old, my first attempt at an original song ever, embarrassing family members like to overshare.
- The Blitz
Aziraphale sat on a park bench overlooking the pond and found a couple of ducklings swimming on the far right, just woken up from a long night's sleep. He felt like he was drifting and his head continuously echoed words from hours before but they had little sense and no connecting between them, just snippets that haunted his brain and made his heart ache.
Some people jogged and walked their dogs in his surroundings, so he imagined the doors must have been opened already, however, he didn’t move at all from the bench, contemplating where he should be headed anyways.
He could go home, sleep a couple of hours and call Gabriel to resign from the band as he had already decided he was supposed to do.
He could also step out of the park and into a nearby French café, order some breakfast as he wallows on his own stupidity over the crêpes they never actually ate the night before.
There was another possibility, but he was way too scared to even go over it. He looked at the mother duckling feeding his little flock and could only imagine Crowley’s secret and brief smile witnessing the scene.
He could fall asleep right there and then, not deciding yet on anything.
The sound of dogs barking noisily startled him from the uneasy dream in the park bench. He had dozed off after all. The watch marked 9:23. His clothes stuck to him like the barking dogs had just licked him all over. He headed home.
The subway was crowded and people recoiled from his surroundings -probably due to the stench his body must be emitting. First, he showered, then, he stared at the mobile charging on the bedroom nightstand, still unsure of how to proceed. He lets it buzz away, times goes by.
A week later, nothing much has changed. He hasn’t decided about the band and keeps avoiding the texts, calls and other forms of communication such as strongly worded emails and angry Facebook threats. His cell buzzes and vibrates, almost tipping it over the edge of the nightstand. He catches it and peruses the messages idly, scrolling over the band’s chat and focusing on the last one received.
Are you coming tonight for Pepper’s birthday?
Aziraphale ran to the calendar on the kitchen and checked the date. It was marked in red with a wrapped present drawn by her the day the night she spent on the apartment while their mother went on a date.
He welcomed the distraction and choose some clothes quickly to make his exit in search for a proper gift, texting his sister to inform him of his assistance in a hurry.
He chose a nice, hardcover edition of Eragon and asked for it to be wrapped, refusing to acknowledge the phone that kept moving in his pocket.
The bus took him to his sister’s semi detached house in Tatsfield and he was greeted by Pepper’s throng of friends, who were running, shouting and jumping around the courtyard, playing some catch game he hadn’t heard of before.
“To the witch!!” One of them yelled as the rest dashed after one of the boys, wearing glasses and with the attire of a 40-year-old suburban father who smokes pipe. They surrounded him.
“Wensleydale, how do you declare yourself?” Pepper asked sternly.
“He’s guilty!! He turned me into a newt!” Another young boy whose face was stained with chocolate and cream, proclaimed. The rest of them looked at the boy suspiciously “I got better” he shrugged.
“For the crime of witchcraft, your punishment shall be… The electric chair!” Adam said as the rest cheered. Aziraphale waved at him and Pepper from the kitchen, pointing at his present while he helped himself to some cake. Suddenly he remembered who was Adam was related to and dreaded to even think….
“Mr. Fell! I was just looking for you” his worst nightmare approached carrying one glass of rosé and a piece of cake on a paper plate.
“Deidre, I have told you many times you don’t have to call treat me like an old fart, I’m barely your senior” he greeted Mrs. Young, trying to conjure some kind of smile. “Call me Aziraphale, please”
“It’s just you really look like one of those old timey librarians so I cannot imagine addressing you in first name basis but I’ll do my best. I just wanted to apologize for my brother the last time we met, he’s a nice fella but likes to play the punk at his age, which is quite ridiculous if you ask me but I cannot blame him, our parents were very strict when we were growing up so he was the one rebelling at every turn the moment he turned 12” her tone was light and pleasing, but he was shuddering just thinking of what would come next.
“You don’t need to apologize, really. We both play for similar bands so there must be some kind of overlap and competitiveness” his smile was crackling already, it was becoming difficult to maintain this pretense.
“You? You play in a rock band?” she inquired repressing laughter, which really, was becoming a little rude.
“I used to, and I’ll have you know we were quite popular for some time. Our song was on the 15th to the top in MTV Britain last February” Aziraphale had never really talked proudly about his song, but it was only fair to inform her that this doormat was actually quite a badass as well.
“C’mon, stop pulling my leg! That’s just not possible, Rome was on the list…” she gasped loudly as she looked him over “You’re the bass player of Flaming Swords. No one would recognize you on the street like this!” she blinked twice and circled him, comparing the persona on the music video with the man in front of her.
“Oh well, good way of fending paparazzi I guess” he quipped trying to repress the anger he was starting to feel.
“But that was Tony’s band! No wonder he was so bitter the other day. He was in such a state when he was sacked. The most upset we’ve seen him in a while. He spent two weeks in mum’s place, refusing to leave his old room like 6-year-old with a tantrum” Aziraphale knew it was coming and he tried not to show the hurt he felt at the mention of his name or the details of the story he wasn’t privy of.
“I was his replacement” he stated blankly, pursuing his lips in a tight line.
“I figured that much. And then you got famous scarcely one year after he left, after spending more than 13 trying to make it work with Boss… Maybe it was meant to be that way…” she kept on driveling until it was impossible to handle anymore.
“I think Pepper is calling for me” Aziraphale interjected, not willing to hear more heart wrenching stories about Tony “it’s always a pleasure to speak to you but I really must go” he left the kitchen as politely and swiftly as possible.
The phone in his pocket was buzzing insistently, as it had been for the last week, but he still was unsure about what to tell the band. He was proud of them, although still felt like Rome was completely overrated and blown out of proportion, he guessed if it could be compared to Celine Dion by his harshest critic, maybe it wasn’t so terrible if quite cheesy and cliché. He was very aware that coming back with the Flaming Swords only meant distancing himself from Crowley and leaving the band to join the Fallen did not seem like a wise course of action just because he had a crush on his bass player, he wouldn’t survive a week. The other option, the one Crowley was hinting at that night, was only an idyllic idea conceived without much thought. What were two bass players going to do in a band by themselves? Were they supposed to start from scratch at their ages, with no security if it could ever work? What if they split up and were just left with nothing to hang to? Not to talk about the repercussions it could bring from both Flaming Swords and The Fallen. It wasn’t an option at all.
Pepper came into the hallway where he kept pondering, looking for him and her precious gift.
“You came alone” she said, a little disappointed.
“Am I not enough for you anymore?” he joked lightly, handing her the present at the same time he kissed her right cheek.
“You know you’re my favorite uncle” she confided, hugging him by the shoulders.
“That’s because I’m your only uncle” Pepper laughed a little as he tickled her ribs, letting go of the embrace.
“It’s just that I’d like another uncle” she shrugged, smiling a little wickedly.
“Oh, we’d talked about his already; Tom Hiddleston is not available for family acts, he only comes when I’m alone at night” he kept deflecting but Pepper was nothing if not stubborn.
“I don’t mean your imaginary boyfriend; I mean Adam’s uncle. I thought you liked him” Aziraphale tried hard not to feel scolded by his 11-year-old niece.
“I know you thought there was something between us, you and Adam must be very excited about becoming relatives or something but adult relationships are complicated…” he tried to clarify gently.
“But do you like him?” she inquired bluntly.
“I… I guess I do” he confessed more to himself than anyone else, quite shocked by the truth that he quite more than liked Crowley.
“Well, he likes you too. Adam says he has never seen his uncle blush before. He’s in a really cool rock band that only plays songs with explicit lyrics on it but he’s very nice!!Adam says he likes to take him to horror movies and then puts his hands over Adam’s eyes when he’s too scared until everything is okay” she explained patiently.
“Peps, I don’t know what that has to do with anything” he was being outsmarted by a little girl. Things couldn’t turn for the worst.
“You see, I told Adam you like scary movies too, so we think you should go on a date and kiss when the Sharknado destroys the military bases” she illustrated her words with hand movements, as if she was describing something challenging to someone completely clueless.
“That’s very sweet of you but we’re not like that. I mean, we might like each other but we’re not right for each other” he expounded carefully, trying to close the conversation.
“Like Romeo and Juliet?” she asked, not letting it go.
“No, I mean, we’re not star-crossed lovers” Aziraphale could feel his resolve weakening with this interrogatory.
“You just said you like each other but are not right for each other, that’s the definition of star-crossed lovers in my literature textbook” Pepper stated matter-of-factly, crossing her arms over her chest.
“Okay, so we are like Romeo and Juliet and I rather not end up killing myself, is that good enough for you?” he lost the little patience he had left.
“I just think it’s a load of bullshit” she deadpanned.
“Language!” Aziraphale scolded her, completely shocked by her niece.
“Romeo and Juliet were so worried about what everyone thought that they had this convoluted plan to marry in secret. It went to the dump but they could have just told their parents to fuck off. They could do whatever they wanted without faking being dead or shit like that. Why did they need to marry at all? Bunch of over-dramatic bitches if you ask me” Aziraphale looked at his niece in complete bewilderment, not even sure what to say or do.
“You… are grounded?” he tried, feebly.
“You cannot ground me, only mum can do that. I don’t let men rule over me” she asserted, not losing her cool for a second. He was in the very awkward situation of feeling completely helpless before his own niece.
“I’ll tell your mum then…” he said nervously, trying to behold his sister between kids and parents fumbling through the house.
“Good luck with that. She’s gonna tell you the same as I did. We loathe the patriarchy in this house” she scoffed and looked at him teasingly.
“So, you might be right somewhere there but what if I already poisoned the cup?” Aziraphale lost all pretense and hated himself a little for asking a 11-year-old for love advice.
“Well, it’s not real poison, duh! All you have to do is wake Adam’s uncle and whatever you do, do not bring a sword” Pepper exclaimed exasperated, shaking her head in a way that indicated she was done with adults being so stupid. He was feeling somewhere between completely exhausted, terribly amused and totally embarrassed. He took hold of the girl and rose her from the ground, hugging her merciless in front of all his friends. She blushed and kicked him lightly on the legs, whispering swearwords and let me go in his ear.
“Thank you” he said full of affection before placing her on the ground with a soft kiss to her hair and immersing himself in the sea of people, looking for Mrs. Young.
“Deidre, I’m afraid I need to ask for a favor” he said out of breath when he finally found her and pushed her away from the circle of amicable parents chatting. She looked a little confused at first, not very happy about being torn away from the rest. “I’m afraid it’s rather urgent. Your brother, could I have his mobile number?” she instantly perked up, a slow smile rising in her thin lips as she rummaged through her bag looking for the phone.
“I knew you were his type, he was hopelessly in love with our Literature teacher, Mr Pulsifer, when he was 15. He even left a secret Valentine in his locker but was too mortified to let him know it was his. Everyone assumed it was Anathema” the more she talked, the less she found the damned device and Aziraphale was losing all the bearings he had left.
“Yeah, I know. We are stupid, middle-aged drama queens who need to get their shit straight, I was recently scolded by my own niece about the subject but I’m trying to rectify here so please, be so kind as to find the motherfucking phone” he cried over the sound of the room, turning every eye onto them.
“No need to be so upset love, I’m sure it will all be just fine. My brother looks like a Casanova but is actually just a hopeless kitten who…Oh, I found it!!! It always drops to the very bottom, that bugger” his heart was about to leap from his body, but she finally showed him the telephone number listed under Tony.
He typed the number in his own device and waited for the signal to catch but no one answered on the other side of the line. The three times he tried had the same response and then he realized that they were having a concert, so he must have left the phone unattended. He recalled briefly the conversation Crowley had with Beelzebub the night they argued and remembered vaguely the club Blitz being mentioned.
“Is anyone heading for London? I need to get there before midnight” no one answered. Aziraphale felt his heart drop.
“Deidre, sweetheart, what’s happening here?” Mr. Young appeared with two glasses of soda and looked at them both puzzled.
“Mr. Fell… You remember Mr. Fell from Adam’s play? Well, he’s in urgent need to get to London to catch Tony. They’re terribly in love apparently” she cooed.
“No one said anything about love” Aziraphale was quick to add, blushing.
“Well, you just might call it whatever you fancy but two are most definitely…” Mrs. Young kept insisting. This wasn’t getting him anywhere.
“Please, Mr. Young, I know we have just met and your wife is wonderfully charming but could we just get in a car and discuss all this on the way?” he pleaded, interrupting Crowley’s sister.
“Sure thing, Tony deserves to be happy for once. He has always been fantastic to Adam. I still remember when he used to dress like Mary Poppins to read him bedtime stories, he even had a name for the character. What was it dear?” The couple seemed to have one mission only: to recall anecdotes that might contradict Crowley’s bad boy image.
“Nanny Ashtoreth” she quipped with ease.
“Oh, the dear chap deserves a break. With his silly band being so terrible, I imagine the least he could get is a good shag, eh?” was the light hearted joke he accompanied by a soft punch Aziraphale’s stomach for comedic effect.
The car ride was going to be the longest and most embarrassing experience he had ever had. He survived miraculously, thanks to the inestimable help of Freddie Mercury singing on the CD player of Mr. Young’s car, mostly deafening his stories and digressions. He asked to be left at his apartment, since he was still on time and felt rather out of place on the last concert of the Fallen. A small comment came to mind about skinny jeans and he had no other choice, really.
He rummaged through the closet, looking for the assemble he had worn the first they met: the tartan skinny pants, torn black T, and spiked choker where strewn around in different drawers and hangers but he was able to gather them all and to style them with a different flair this time. The choker was snug against his throat and the T was tucked enough to create a tightness in his chest where little peaks could be held through the tears, the pants (bought in a thrift store for the first concert) were still too long but this time around he just bunched them under some combat boots that had purchased at a later date. There was no henna tattoos or heavy eyeshadow this time but hopefully the sleepless night still made his eyes look like a racoon. Now that he had more experience with the hair gel and knew the right quantity for it to be spiked without being ironclad, he even felt comfortable wearing it like this from time to time, instead of the usual out-of-bed curls he had worn since university. He was ready, or he hoped so, because he still had no idea how to spin this crazy situation he had brought on himself. He was just counting on the damn outfit making enough of an impression to buy some time and maybe a bit of forgiveness.
The Blitz was close enough by car; he glanced at the clock and headed out at 23:15, when the concert had already started. He parked somewhere close and arrived to the queue at half past eleven. The bouncer wasn’t very keen on letting him in, but the rest of the line was starting to get impatient and Aziraphale was nothing but stubborn. Although the noise from the concert could be heard feebly from the street, inside the local speakers were on full blast as the harsh rhythm of the Adversary’s chant was deafening and almost earth quaking. He didn’t feel like cheering this time, people seemed more motivated and he could actually recognize many from the night before so he was content with ambushing the bass player at the end of the concert rather than trying to steal his attention.
He made his way to the counter and asked for a pint, not letting the scenery out his sight. The first time they’d met came to his mind like a flash; Crowley was shouting something obscene at him over the sound of his own music from a counter very similar to this one. Oh, how the tables turned.
The song ended and the next began, this one more subdued than the rest of the usual Fallen playlist. Aziraphale almost choked on a sip when he realized Crowley was approaching the mike while Beelzebub retreated to a secondary spot with his electric guitar. He was half expecting him to give a speech to the crowd or to expose him as a coward in front of everyone but instead the bastard started to sing.
You and I
Were written in the stars but you
Weren’t willing to take the chance
‘tween fists and bar brawls
We kissed at nightfall
And you tell me
There’s no way we can be
And you tell me
All the things we miss
What you never say
What you never dare
Is to see how much I care
How can you be so dumb?
I’m here in front you at the Ark
I offer a ride right to the moon
You say I’m going fast for you
And we have met before
Of that I’m pretty sure
Just waiting till’ you get a clue
You and I
We were written in the stars but you
Weren’t willing to take the chance
Aziraphale sat his drink on the counter and gripped on it without even realizing it, unable to move or think any further. He had written a song. About them. And it was no vague metaphor or philosophical dribble on the nature of love like Rome it was a raw song that the bastard must have composed in less than a week. People were actually using their cellphone lights to chant the chorus with Crowley, moving them to the rhythm. It was catchy and simple, so everyone felt emboldened enough to follow the lead.
And what was he supposed to do? This wasn’t something that Crowley had created for him to hear, in fact, he was quite sure Crowley had written it thinking they would never cross paths again. It was a goodbye.
How fucking stupid could they be?
People roared with applause when the song finished, although none of the group members seemed particularly happy about it. It wasn’t their style, it wasn’t about debunking the status quo or fucking the police or social injustice, it was a love song. The Fallen never performed love songs. Dagon, Hastur and Ligur had sour faces that indicated the success it was garnering wasn’t warranted. Beelzebub was too busy heading to the mike and announcing the following song.
Crowley walked back to his previous spot, casting a wide glare over the room. Aziraphale dropped to his knees in a hurry, trying to hide behind the counter before it was too late. Sadly, in his rush he knocked over two jars from patrons to his right and left.
They were pissed and the fact that Aziraphale refused to get up to apologize in a normal fashion was only making things worse. As the next song started to play, one of them hauled him by the t-shirt and raised him to his feet and then to his eye-level, menacingly.
“What’s your problem, mate?”
“I’m so sorry, the next round is so on me but put me down, please. I’m gonna get myself in a hole I don’t know how to escape. Please, please, let me down” he begged the burly man who kept his hold.
“Next round? You better make it two if you want to get out of here unscratched” he warned, placing him on the ground.
“Of course! Two rounds, no problem!” Aziraphale agreed rapidly. He dared to look at the stage again and found that Crowley was looking at the three of them without even blinking.
He waved a little, unsure of how to behave. The patrons started intermittently at the bass player and the offender, like they were witnessing a tennis match. They didn’t say another word.
There were still 3 more songs left and Crowley seemed to lose his interest on the counter once the attackers looked properly subdued.
People started to vacate the premises once the show was done and Aziraphale felt like the most stupid person in all of the creation. Now what? Did he go to the backstage and create a scene? Did he wait for some band members to recognize him and -most probable scenario- beat him up? Was Crowley even interested in what he wanted to say- that was still unclear and sappy and he should really disappear while he could?
He wasn’t willing to admit that he had endured the Youngs and Pepper’s pestering for nothing so he squared his shoulders and gulped down what was left of his drink before looking for the back exits where the van was waiting for the music equipment. He looked around the small parking space in front of the door, knowing fully well that any of the other group members could go out before his target, but he was willing to take his chances this time around. He settled at the left side of the van where he could remain partially hidden until they opened the boot. The band logo was written with graffiti spray over the left side of the shabby black van, a couple of stick figurines with horns and tails clinging to the letters and some skulls drawings were strewn around for good measure.
There was noise approaching so he crouched a little, waiting to recognize the voices. One seemed to be low pitched and menacing, Ligur’s, and the other was… It was Crowley! There was also the sound of the drums thumping a little from the way they were being carried but it seemed like it was only the two of them for now.
“…you were thinking… cheesy as fuck… ashamed….” Could be heard near the door now
“…Care a lot about your opinion” was the last he heard before the door actually opened. Aziraphale froze in the spot, an awkward smile perched on his face. Both men recoiled a little shocked and almost let the instrument drop from their hold.
“HOLY MOTHER OF…” Ligur exclaimed, shallowly breathing at the image of the other musicians through the windows with the biggest, foolish smile ever.
“Hi!” Aziraphale greeted them unmoving, his brain completely set on bolting
“THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING HERE?!” Ligur yelled, a little more composed but barely grasping the situation.
“Sorry emh… I was just… I just came by and saw your van and, it’s very nice by the way, and I thought that maybe I could talk to Crowley for a second… It’s about bass and stuff and nothing to do with the band and…” the excuses were so bad, even Ligur could see through them
“I think there’s nothing else to say. And don’t be such a creep, Ligur is sensitive” Crowley said curtly.
“I AM NOT…” the drummer interrupted furiously.
“Oh, shut up and open the van already. You… Better go before the others come” he didn’t look from the drum set but his voice was tired.
“I’m not going anywhere without you” Aziraphale pronounced, adamant.
“You might have to bring Ligur and the drums as well, so it’s better if we just let things be” was Crowley’s ironic retort, leaving no room for argument.
“I just need a minute. One minute and I won’t bother you anymore, I swear” the other bass musician pleaded while the drum set was securely pushed in the back of the van.
“I started counting the moment you gave Ligur a stroke” was the comeback.
“Okay, I get it. I… I just wanted you to know I’m not giving up” Aziraphale stated with determination.
“Are you two friends or something?” Ligur asked quizzically, feeling completely out of context.
“No, we’re not. And he’s already leaving. That was the plan, leaving. So, go” the last word was full of concealed hurt.
“I can’t” the other said in a calm voice, not moving from his spot.
“Oh… Oh… You’re shagging the bass player from the Flaming Swords!” Ligur’s brain finally caught up. More voices started to approach. Aziraphale was still at the other side of the van.
“Fuck it” Crowley snarled, leaving the parking space for the broader street, jogging to the other side for the other to follow. Aziraphale dashed behind him, chasing his every move. They must have walked two blocks at a fast pace before the shorter man started to pant and breath in a heavy fashion, pausing for a breath while leaning on a nearby building wall in a narrow, deserted street.
Crowley felt tempted not to stop and to keep the pace but was unsure of where he was leading aside from “far from the group”, so he sighed and reclined on the wall as well, gazing at the sky over the always present sunglasses. He had expected Aziraphale to abandon the quest much easily, but something was different that night.
“You are not leaving Flaming Swords, then?” Crowley asked after a few minutes, not facing him but rather asking to the stars, barely visible on the London sky.
“I… don’t know. I haven’t spoken to them at all, it was all a bit of a blur to be honest but that’s not why I’m here” Aziraphale stood completely from the wall and placed himself in front of the other man, blocking his vision but far enough from his personal space.
“Why, then? Did you feel like stalking me for a second week in a row?” Crowley mocked, unamused.
“Sorry about that, I didn’t mean to startle you two, I just knew deep down that if I didn’t come today, it would be over” the voice was calm and collected as it had never been before, Crowley reluctantly gazed at him.
“What would be over?” he wondered, still angry and ironic.
“Our chance. You and I. I want to give it a shot” Aziraphale’s resolution was clear by his tone. This time, there was no turning back.
“You said we weren’t right for each other, that we keep hurting…” Crowley sounded mostly tired at this point, and the other man couldn’t blame him.
“I know what I said, I was scared” he acknowledged, smiling with an aftertaste of bitterness.
“And you’re not scared anymore…?” the taller man almost scoffed, skeptical.
“I’m pissing my pants but I’m still here, in the tartan pants and spiked choker telling you I want to start over” the words tempted Crowley to actually take a good look at him and, although the effect was not the same as he had intended at the beginning of the night, it wasn’t half bad for almost getting beat up on the way.
“Are you wearing the same clothes than the night at Eden?” he asked, this time clearly amused despite his reservations.
“It’s stupid, but I just wanted you to know that I’m not the same person that you saw that night. That somewhere along the way, I started to feel comfortable in my skin and this is me now, it’s not a costume or a character anymore. I thought it was best to run from him and from you but I don’t think I can. You are part of me and no matter what happens with Flaming Swords, I want you in my life. With all the pain and all the laughter, all the stumbles and all the kisses. I’m not gonna run from you ever again, if you have me” he was practically breathless by the time he croaked the last part of the sentence, feeling like such a twat for the choice of words and the cheesiness of it all. Crowley was going to laugh in his face, then leave to look for a better shag for the night, who would want someone as pathetic as…?
His brain shut off completely when he felt Crowley’s lips over his. There must have been a moment, he thought, when he had walked the four steps of distance, he must have removed his dark shades at some point, he might have said something. Aziraphale wasn’t sure of anything except two facts: his arms were strong around his waist and his mouth was soft and pliant against his, no tongue and no teeth this time, only a tender movement so unexpectedly gentle he felt like crying. Who was this person kissing him? Was he the cocky bass player who practically jumped his bones the moment they met or was this the Tony everyone kept talking about, who wrote love songs and attended his nephew’s plays? Was he the same Crowley who talked to him for 5 hours straight over a cup of coffee and a bowl of chips, brushing their hands like teenagers or the one who obliterated with a glance two burly men in the middle of a concert?
“I guess I’ll keep you if you behave accordingly from now on” the demon, the angel, the person who had just left him completely out of his mind pronounced in a fond jest, rubbing his nose against Aziraphale’s as their lips finally parted.
“I have no other choice then” he agreed softly, caressing the tattooed sideburn as he angled his face to nip the earlobe on the opposite side.
“And you have to wear the leather pants again. It’s mandatory” Crowley demanded, trying hard not to lose his cool as the tongue started to lick his throat, keeping his hands on the other’s back and letting his fingers skim through one of the tears to first tickle and then lightly scratch soft skin.
“Promise” he sighed on his collarbone, and then “Would you like something else, master?” the cheeky bastard had already given him a hard on by the time he meowed those words over his shoulder, biting over the cloth there. Crowley gripped his hips and rocked lightly against the other body, feeling a little less alone when he brushed against the stiff bulge trapped on tartan pants.
“If you call me master one more time…” he warned just over Aziraphale’s ear, scraping the shell with his teeth for good measure. What started as a soft brush was becoming an increasingly tight grind, resulting in the shorter man pushing Crowley against the wall not far away to find some kind of balance.
“What are you going to do about it, Tony?” he asked huskily, fingers wandering close to the belt buckle while his lips pressed against his jaw, marking him like a cigarette burn.
“I’m gonna drop to my knees and suck you off” he moaned on the other’s ear, eliciting a chuckle.
“You are a terrible dom” Aziraphale teased nuzzling his chest without heat, almost fond as he undid both the snake belt and the buttons of Crowley’s pants, rubbing his hand heel against the clothed erection.
“Oh, I have the feeling you have that part more than covered” the taller one sighed, digging his fingers on small hips, hopelessly trying to slide the cloth down even if it was still zipped.
“Are you telling me you’re all bark and no bite? I should have known” Aziraphale taunted as he kept his ministrations, unzipping his own pants and letting Crowley pull down the underwear as he did the same for him.
“See, I knew you were a bossy bastard from the beginning. I kept imagining you were going to pin me somewhere and ravage me if I pushed you far enough, alas...” the sentence was interrupted by the shorter man’s lips clashing against his own at the same time as he reached for Crowley’s member with the same hand that was stroking himself, as easily as if this was something he did every other Sunday night.
“I can admit that I have been a bit clueless” Aziraphale mouthed softly over the other’s lips, increasing the tempo of his hand as his lover writhed against the wall, his fingers clutching the shorter man’s buttocks hard enough to bruise.
“A little” Crowley conceded out of breath and out of mind, letting his head rest on Aziraphale’s shoulder, panting. He could feel himself getting closer every second with the hard rhythm imprinted by the other’s hand.
“The song…. Ineffable… Was that something I said? I can’t really recall but it felt… familiar” the pace slowed down a bit as he uttered the words, letting his own head drop to Crowley’s own shoulder, heart pounding and breath faltering.
“Oh please, let’s not talk. I just want to…” the taller musician pleaded; his mind too hazy to finish the sentence. He was so close, the only thing he really needed right now was to let the tension uncoil finally.
“It was in Golgotha, wasn’t it? Jesus was having a hard time with the schedule for the bands and…How could you even remember that?” Aziraphale turned his head to the side and found Crowley’s own, red and barely containing emotion, biting his lower lip in a vague attempt of restrain. He’d never contemplated anything more arousing in his life.
“I dunno, I wrote the whole thing in a rush… I needed to get it out of my chest” the taller musician let out as the shorter one resumed his former rhythm while his gaze fixed on the other’s eye, piercing.
“I liked it” Aziraphale mumbled hoarsely, licking his swollen lips. Crowley could already feel the tension building in his stomach “ It was sappy… Nickelback couldn’t have done it better” and that did it. They both stifled laughter as Crowley’s cum stained their clothes, the shorter man let out a fond chuckle, shaking his head on Crowley’s shoulder.
“Oh, bugger off” the taller man whimpered embarrassed, trying to regain his bearings slumped against the wall. His right hand left the ass he had held for his dear life to join Aziraphale’s still throbbing erection, establishing his own pace over the other man.
“Do you really think I’m gonna let this go?” the shorter man still felt bold enough to taunt him, although his voice was cracking and his breath was ragged. Crowley let his other hand wonder upwards, pinching stiff nipples through the torn fabric and tangling his fingers on the curls softly peaking from the t-shirt, receiving a moan in response that was swallowed by his own mouth kissing the shorter musician.
“I wish you did but then I’m hoping to tempt you for a nightcap and a shag on an actual bed. It might be enough to distract you” the words, whispered between quick and messy kisses, were accompanied by the slightest change in pressure, increasing the friction, sending the other man over the edge. It was beautiful, the way he unraveled and collapsed his whole body over Crowley and the wall, whispering curses and sweet nothings alike.
“Your place?” he finally breathed, still raspy and coarse, not budging from his new hold on the wall with his cum stained hand, while the other traced small circles and drawings over Crowley’s hip.
“Actually, I might have been leading us that way when we left the club so it’s not far” Crowley offered somewhat hesitant, caressing the curls that were starting to appear at the nape of Aziraphale’s neck due to the sweat.
“All this time, you were planning this bit” the green-eyed man smiled, amused, as he curled himself over his lover’s body, leaning on the pet like a cat. It was all the reassurance that was needed.
“Unconsciously, perhaps” Crowley admitted, pushing both of them from the wall as slow as he could while offering a napkin he had been -he wasn’t sure for how long- keeping on his left pocket as he took one for himself.
“My ass” Aziraphale returned ironically, whipping himself and his mostly ruined underwear. Crowley extended an inviting hand toward him, which was taken without faltering, letting the golden-eyed man lead the way.
“Soon” Crowley promised close to his ear.
I will update the next chapter tomorrow.
Chapter 11: Soho
Aziraphale and Crowley make their way to the apartment and spend the night together.
Warnings: sexual content, fear of abandonment, insecurity, hurt-comfort, intimacy, thigh praising
If you are not interested in the sexual content, I recommend you to skip the chapter or at least stop reading when they head to the bedroom around half chapter in. You can safely keep reading next chapter.
Also, this is an asexual person writing sex scenes so don't expect them to be specially horny (or good, to be honest).
I'll post the last two chapters on Tuesday.
They walked in silence for the most part, letting fingers intertwine and play on the back of the others hands, shoulders brushing once in a while. Aziraphale was struck by the realization that this might be the first time they have spent more than 10 minutes without bantering or bickering. There was no need to talk at the moment, not for teasing or joking, it was all said by the small touch, the simple connection of hands clasping each other. It was the happiest he had felt in a while, it might have to do with the certainty that he was making the right choice for once, not questioning where it was going or how it could turn sour; for now, the bumping and smiling and stealing glances over each other’s shoulders was more than enough for his mind and his heart.
Crowley stopped in front of an old block of apartments in the Soho neighbourhood, rummaging his pockets for the key without dropping the other’s hand, as if he were scared of Aziraphale running away the moment he let go. The keys were tingling in his fingers as he grabbed them, rising them to eye level. They were faintly illuminated and glinted when the lonely lightbulb over them hit them squarely. The green-eyed man kept waiting for the door to be opened, but Crowley just stared at his face while holding the keyring between both of them.
“Do you really want to come in?” was said in a low voice that resembled very little the brash and boisterous man he knew. It was soft and wavering, like a new lit candle. The shorter man blinked, restraining himself from screaming and kissing and biting.
“I’d love to, dear” he pronounced earnestly, raising his right hand to caress the other’s stubbly cheek “There’s nothing I’d like better than staying the night” Crowley let out a shaky breath he hadn’t realized he had been holding in, whilst leaning briefly into the touch, smiling awkwardly.
“No turning back?” he urged, although it sounded more like a plea.
“Never again” was the quick reassurance accompanied by a swift peck on the lips. This time, the keys were lowered and entered in the lock, twisting a bit before pushing with his shoulder.
The hallway was narrow and lacked an elevator, so they had to take the steep and winding stairs to the third floor. Crowley led, quick and nimble in the practice, while Aziraphale followed slower but much more amused by the view of those firm buttocks clad in skinny denim working their way up. The taller man looked over his shoulder around the fourth flight of stairs, stopping his tracks to let the other caught up.
“Just admiring the sights, I might take a picture for later” he wheezed, out of breath but still with enough cheek to make Crowley snicker.
“C’mon angel, can an old man like you really keep me awake all night? Those were a lot of promises you were making” he proffered mockingly, half turning his torso to peak at the flustered one regaining his breath.
“I never made any promises but I have a few ideas” was panted in a way that resembled way too much other kinds of efforts “Also, pretty sure you’re slightly older than me” Crowley grasped the stair rail in a dramatic pose, turning to face Aziraphale, shocked by the audacity.
“’am not” was the quick and fake-offended return.
“If your Facebook page is okay, you are 1 year, 4 months and 9 days older than me” the shorter man quipped, his breath more even and his eyebrows raised in taunt.
“So you WERE stalking me” the golden eyed man pointed out smugly, tapping his right hand fingers on the rail, still not willing to ascend.
“How did you find out I was playing at Nile?” Aziraphale shrugged, nonplussed, as he climbed a couple of steps closer. The other man slowed the tempo of the fingers, letting them brace the bar.
“I did not look for you on social media, although I’m sure it would be the easiest thing to do with your ridiculous name. How many Aziraphales are there in Britain?” Crowley’s words were embarrassed and his gaze focused on the banister rather than the approaching figure.
“You looked” it didn’t resemble a question, it was as true as day, and the musician imprinted it with such a confidence, it would be difficult to rebuke it.
“Only to know that you were okay before Rome came out…” the taller man admitted frowning, still not looking up as the distance became smaller. His knuckles were turning white from the strong clench.
“Oh…” Aziraphale exhaled, stopping for a second and unable to hide the smile that was creeping into his face. He was still two steps behind.
“We met twice a month for a very long time somehow, and then Flaming Swords stopped playing in the same locals or close by… I was a little…” Crowley bit lip, voice raspy towards the end and still adamant about looking at his own fingers gripping the railing.
“Worried” was muttered under Aziraphale’s breath, affectionate and wondrously, like he had just discovered the secret to life itself.
“Well, yes. I know how harsh your bandmates can be…” the other started, finally looking up only to find the shorter musician crowding over him in the same narrow step, holding him closely by the waist, his eyes glimmering and lips turned into the most blissful expression. Crowley noticed his body relaxing and felt a little scared of how easy it was for such a clueless man to break every single defense he had carefully built up over the years. Just with a smile.
“Thank you” the shorter man whispered in his ear, kissing his left cheek fondly.
“I just looked for you on Instagram, it wasn’t such a big deal” the taller one scoffed, letting his own hands cradle Aziraphale’s head and comb his short hair.
“I was afraid you didn’t care… I assumed you didn’t even remember who I was…” the words leapt out so quick and jumbled, it was an amazing they were understood at all.
“Why would you even think that?” Crowley inquired, completely baffled. His fingers stopped moving, stunned.
“Gabriel contacted new performing spaces to avoid more conflicts with you guys and I just… I didn’t do anything because I didn’t know what to do” he confessed, heaving a breath he must have been holding for quite a while.
“So you wrote me a song?” the golden eyes softened, blinking astonished as he all the pieces of the puzzle started to slide into place; he lifted the stubbly chin softly with his left hand in order to look at him properly.
“I wasn’t intending for it to become big or anything, I was only hoping Noah would play the single for you” Aziraphale murmured almost embarrassed, but mostly biting his lip cheekily.
“Noah from the Ark?” Crowley questioned, not hiding his absolute bewilderment.
“He was the first person I gave the recording to. I thought, maybe if it was good enough, he might play it on the store whenever you came. And he did! He liked it so much he played it every couple of hours on the speakers until people started to come asking for the name of the group and he gave them our youtube page… It snowballed very quickly from there but I just wanted you to hear it” Aziraphale clarified, his voice rising slightly as the story unfolded in a way that indicated he couldn’t believe what he was telling himself. Crowley listened to the overwhelming tale without uttering a word, the only reaction seemed to be in his golden eyes. A few seconds, maybe a minute went by with them just holding each other and staring into the other's eyes, bemusedly.
“…You could have just phoned” Crowley finally uttered, breaking into a fit of laughter.
“Oh shut up! I didn’t even know your number, you jerk!” Aziraphale reprimanded him in an indignant frown, dropping his arms and starting to climb the stairs again, letting go of the other’s hands on his head by shaking him away.
“So you could have friended me on Facebook” the taller one shrugged, still unable to control his mirth. He caught the other’s musician left hand and brought it to his lips, stopping his ascension.
“I never thought you would accept the request. I thought you’d be too… embarrassed and I could have gotten into trouble with my band doing something so openly friendly with an ex-member. Sandalphon is a conspiracy-theorist extraordinaire” Crowley thought for a moment and realized that the green-eyed man was probably right; they could have gotten in trouble and he might not have even considered befriending the bass player in that particular moment. He pulled the grasped hand with a soft touch to get the other’s attention. He was rewarded with the other musician turning around and face him again. The step he had already scaled gave him the right amount of rise for them to be almost the same height, if Aziraphale might be a few inches taller this time around.
“I never went to the Ark. I don’t remember why but the first time I listened to Rome I was in my car. I loved it instantly. And then they said it was from Flaming Swords and I could only think how was it possible that Gabriel, of all people, could be in the mid-morning radio program. And I listened, and listened, until I knew it was yours. After months of waiting for some sign, all I got from you was… That. I never thought it was about me, not really, I just thought you would be too big for me, too good for me, too successful, too important to ever play again in a small club with the Fallen. And so, I went there and made you feel just as small as I felt because that way, we.... we would be even” Aziraphale swallowed loudly enough for it to be heard. Crowley’s speech was full of the repressed emotion, anger and spite that had been their routine for the past two years, but this time was different. It didn’t shy away from the any truth; it wasn’t meant to be cutting or mean, it was a sort of apology without ever mentioning being sorry but it was also confession of something he was only too familiar with. It was all the fears and all the hopes, all the love and all the hurt.
“I forgive you” Aziraphale delivered in a gentle whisper, letting a small tear escape his eye to roll down his cheek. Crowley contemplated him in a daze, not expecting a response like that in the slightest. It was like a floodgate that had accumulated rain during endless years, had been released and so, he let himself cry unabashedly, feeling completely drained but also light as a feather. A soothing sensation overcame his body as he felt the other man wiping away his tears with mild kisses and warm fingers. “It’s okay, we’re here now. I’m not going anywhere” he voiced in a tender murmur. Crowley felt dizzy by now.
“Can I… could we go upstairs once and for all? I don’t think I can take anymore mussy confessions on this damn stair” he grumbled when he was able to form coherent sentences. The other man smiled and nodded, looking like a saint in Satan’s clothing. Maybe it was Crowley’s vision still blurry, but the light hit him from behind like a halo as he stood there in the ripped T and skinny pants, with his spikes and bracelets full of skulls, his hair wild and dark like a raven but his eyes green and blue by moments. It was the closest he had ever felt to a religious experience. He moved slowly and carefully as he reached for Aziraphale lips, a quick reassurance that he was real and not an ethereal being that had descended upon Earth only to be tempted by a mere mortal. The kiss was short and sweet, only a small reprieve before reaching the door two flight of stairs away.
The light went out when they were reaching the last flight and they didn’t even bother turning it on again, just fumbled while holding the railing until the 3rd floor was finally- after what felt like hours- in front of them. There was no hesitation this time, just a couple of attempts before the key went the right way into the lock and they were in.
The space wasn’t big but it was clean to a default and minimal in the decoration and furniture department. A sleek black couch, a wide screen TV and the open kitchen to the side, only equipped with a fridge, a stove, a sink, a microwave and a coffee maker. There were no pots or pans in sight, no coffee tables or CDs strewn around the place. It was all neatly collected and in shelves under a sound system that looked worn but loved, still reproduced LPs and cassettes and had no USB entrance or Bluetooth. Oh, the old-fashioned bastard. The only thing that seemed to be prolific were pots of plants near the window, over some wooden shelves that might have contained books in his own house.
Crowley never said much, just made himself busy in the kitchen, placing a small kettle on the stove as he went over the neat cabinets. Aziraphale felt both as an intruder and at home, which made very little sense but he had already decided not to over analyze the situation anymore, so he went with his gut. Without uttering a word, he walked to the counter and approached the taller musician stealthily, looking over his shoulder to the contents inside.
“I’d like mine black, thank you” he announced audibly, making the other man jumpy at the unexpected closeness.
“Right, right” Crowley muttered, reaching for a container labeled with the name of the tea. He really was a neat freak. Aziraphale could barely contain his giggling. “What?” the other man scolded, turning with two boxes in his hands and an annoyed expression.
“You are adorable” the green-eyed man blurted out simply, bluntly. Crowley blushed, from the tip of his ears and under his three o’clock shadow, still noticeable.
“Shut up” he protested, hiding his face inside the cabinet.
“Look at that, you’re red as an apple. I could just take a bite right now” Aziraphale felt more and more emboldened by the coy demure after that big bad wolf energy he had been showing ever since they met. Was he ashamed of the place? Of himself?
“Would you like some sugar with that?” Crowley asked, ignoring him altogether as he turned to the piping kettle with two mugs.
“I like it dark and strong, with a little bit of an aftertaste” he whispered in the other man’s ear, embracing him from behind slow and careful not to startle him while he was pouring the piping hot water. He perched his head on the taller’s man shoulder
“Stop it, I know you like it teeth-rotting sugary” the taller man berated, hands a little shaky as he cleared his throat, reaching for one of the containers he had taken from the cupboard and rising his shirt on the process. The hands lowered themselves to that small patch in an instant, caressing skin.
“You are the only sugar I need right now” Aziraphale rumbled before grazing his teeth over his collarbone, licking messily after doing so. Crowley chuckled, placing the mugs over the counter before turning around.
“That’s your worst line of the night so far” he said it with a stern face but inside, his heart was thumping wildly at a pace he had hope to control before things went too crazy.
“What can I say? I am a little baffled by your place. I never took you for a flower person” Aziraphale’s stare wavered from his to the window on the opposite side of the room.
“They’re not flowers, they are plants” Crowley deadpanned, letting his hips loose from the others grip and doing a half turn to retrieve the white china mug, handing it to the other man by the handle.
“Just thinking of you owning and caring about living things is a little disconcerting” Aziraphale admitted, cradling the tea with both hands as he looked at the dissolving powder rather than somewhere else.
“Because I am a heartless bastard?” the other man quipped quickly, taking his own tea and sipping from it.
“Because you behave like a heartless bastard” Aziraphale blinked, raising his eyes to connect with Crowley’s again “but I should have known by now it’s all an act” he added with a brief smiled over the mug’s ridge, hiding it in a swift swig of the drink. The taller one rolled his eyes but did not dispute the fact, letting a sigh escape his lips after swallowing the strong blend.
“The world is a stage and all of that dribble” he shrugged, adding a little more sugar to his drink.
“I guess I’m just curious about the rest” Aziraphale commented lightly, licking his lower lip as placed the tea on the counter behind.
“The rest?” Crowley asked in a coy demure, following the game this time around.
“The things I thought I knew about you… and your bedroom” the last part was so smooth, it almost seemed to come from a James Bond pick-up line. Green eyes full of mischief stared at golden ones earnestly, openly, unabashedly unapologetic for the uttered words.
“I suppose I could give a tour” the taller musician allowed with a smile so unlike the ones Aziraphale had ever seen, he was instantly dazed by it. His body didn’t have to do much to catch his lips in a sweet kiss that still had a bitter tang to black tea.
“I’d love that” a small, stubbly hand clasped on the bigger, open, welcoming one that lead the way to a closed door to the left. The owner turned the handle and let them in, reaching for the light switch in a second.
“I know it’s not much, but welcome to my humble abode” the room only had a bed wrapped in red covers, a nightstand to his side and a black wardrobe. No photos or paintings, just the grey walls with the clashing colors of the pieces of furniture. Aziraphale closed the door behind him with a soft thud, approaching the bed without a word. He sprawled into it, testing its durance like a kid who had been brought to a mattress store for the first time. Crowley’s chest tightened in a hard knot as he contemplated from a few steps behind, the only thing running through his mind was the simple thought that the other man’s presence here was natural and right; a small but important part that had been missing in the room and that automatically made it warmer and safer… and home. He had lived for years in that apartment and he had never thought of it that way.
“Are you coming?” Aziraphale asked, casually, ridiculously posing like a XVIII century model about to be painted by his lover on the Titanic, still fully clothed and with his boots stepping over the covers, smudging some dirt.
In any other situation, heads would have rolled upon the small blunder of shoes over blankets but his heart was so full, he felt like crying and laughing at the same time instead. He started to remove his clothing without prompting, opening the wardrobe to place each garment in its proper place. Aziraphale watched transfixed for a while as he disrobed slowly and carefully, folding and each piece carefully until he half turned in the middle of the show, raising an eyebrow as a cue. The green-eyed man struggled with his own clothes, trying to get them out all at once and failing spectacularly, getting the pants in a bunch over his boots; the T shirt got stuck over his head as he was taking it out from the wrong slip. Crowley moved closer to the bed, crowding over the struggling musician and untangling from the mess he was in ever so slowly, releasing the head from torn fabric and kissing softly on his clavicle as he untied the laces.
“Never wear shoes on my bed, ever again” he whispered against the other’s chest, nuzzling against the curly hairs that were very barely visible through the T shirt but that had been tempting him for hours with the small peak troughs, finally able to feel them against his skin seemed like a dream.
“You really like control, don’t you?” Aziraphale murmured, eyes closed and chest heaving as he relinquished any resistance and let the other man undress him without protest. There wasn’t an answer but it wasn’t necessary; he was just voicing the deductions he had been making ever since he entered the apartment and saw Crowley’s demeanor. The tugging of his underwear made him get out of the pleasant trance of just feeling the other’s hands, lips and limbs all over his body. Heaving a sigh, he opened his eyes and took in the image of his lover hot and bothered, more eager for this garment to be off than the rest which had been parsimoniously removed. Aziraphale raised his hips, looking directly into the golden eyes, daring him at the same time that reassured. Crowley visibly swallowed, not dropping his gaze as he gave a final pull and let the boxers slide down strong built thighs until they reached the calves.
“Come here” the shorter man urged, taking hold of the other musician shoulders and dragging him up until they were kissing and kissing, rutting and panting as teenagers in heat.
“I want to…” Crowley voiced; his mouth still attached to Aziraphale. His right hand reached for his lover’s pulsing erection, stroking with a hard grip, letting sweat and other fluids help the friction to become a slide as he imprinted a rising rhythm. After a while, he slid down the bed and breathed onto his lover’s thighs, rising the vision enough to connect with Aziraphale before gently running his tongue down the side of the musician’s member.
“Fuck…!” the shorter man proffered loudly, biting his lip as he let his hands go to Crowley’s head, tangling on the short and soft hair there. His lover grinned smugly- the cheeky bastard- while he played, licked and sucked, teasing all the way but never letting him close to coming, his mouth slowing down and his fingers soothing rather than releasing the tension.
“Wait a second” the tall man requested, reaching for the nightstand and its contents. Aziraphale couldn’t have moved even if he had wanted to. He watched in a haze as Crowley came back, fully erect and in all the glorious nakedness he had lust for -literal- years, slim and strong body full of stark lines that seemed to engulf him with his presence. He was carrying some wrapped condoms and a bottle of lube, so he could imagine his plans by now.
“Do you want me to…?” the question was ambiguous and out of breath, but it was also a request, an offer and an inquiry about the others intentions. The taller one nodded, passing the lube bottle as he made himself busy opening the wrapping and placing the rubber on his lover’s penis. Cold hands roved over Crowley’s back, making his way downwards towards his destination, making him shiver but also position himself more comfortably for the lubed index finger gently breaching without coaxing his entrance. There was some resistance at the beginning, it had been a while since he felt like penetrative sex with the one-night stands he was used to have in his bed. This was different, it was about trust and breaking walls, it was about relinquishing his control knowing fully well the other person would be there for the aftermath.
The second finger was a little easier, coated with a good amount of lube, it started to be as intense and pleasurable as he remembered. After a little while, he felt himself ready to take the girth so he stroked Aziraphale’s erection a little and nodded slightly when the shorter man let go of his fingers and pointed with his gaze towards his lap. Crowley loomed over him for a moment, resting his forehead on the pillow next to the musician’s shoulder before slowly lowering his hips on the others lap, his left hand guiding the penis inside his opening.
They waited a few seconds, more perhaps, until the whole world stopped spinning, the pain wasn’t overwhelming and the tightness wasn’t so maddening. It was barely in, but it was too much already. They breathed, at first raggedly and chaotically, but then Aziraphale started to hum softly, almost imperceptibly, the rhythm to Rome and Crowley followed, inhaling and exhaling to the beat. The taller man started to go down, slowly, still in tune and breathing to the rhythm. No rush, no hurry. The movements started to pick up shortly after that, when their bodies were relaxed and welcoming to each other, discovering all the new horizons they could reach together. Crowley’s hands strapped themselves to those robust and supple thighs as he chased his own pleasure and felt Aziraphale’s approaching, his face like an open book.
“Promise…” Crowley panted, still grinding and rising, letting a small moan escape as he felt his lover hand sliding from his hip, where he had been grasping to bruise for some time, only to land ever so casually on his shaft.
“Anything, I would…” the shorter man barely voiced, detaching his tongue from the left nipple he had been harassing mercilessly.
“Only… don’t go” he breathed, letting out a sound similar to a sob that felt like stone to the other’s gut. Crowley kept increasing the pace and Aziraphale tried to match it with his hand on the other’s manhood.
“Never, I am so sorry. I can’t believe how stupid...” the green-eyed man rose his other hand, forcing’s his lovers gaze to connect with his, trying to convey all the emotion and regret he could muster but his tongue was unable to put into words.
“Please” Crowley urged, his eyes teary and his rhythm erratic. He could feel it in the pit in his stomach, it was close and yet he needed to know.
“I won’t leave, not tonight or tomorrow or the day after. Let me stay” Aziraphale vouched, cradling his lovers face closer, foreheads colliding and eyes watering. The heat was consuming now, a matter of seconds before any finished. The taller man moved his head to the right side and murmured intelligibly between sighs before his body clenched and relaxed, cum drizzling from his cock and into the hands and sheets as he reached his climax. He wanted to ride it out, he felt his partner so close to release, it was almost a crime to stop now even if his body felt numb. He felt Aziraphale’s light peck on his shoulder and then how he shifted, trying to move out.
“Don’t you dare!” Crowley warned him, still fuzzy from his undoing but not enough to be manhandled that way. He kept rising and falling, not bothered about the other’s protest and rather focusing on finishing him off.
“You really don’t have to do this, I can take care of it myself” he half-moaned half-whined, holding again to Crowley’s hip like an anchor.
“I need you to come, now” the taller man commanded in no uncertain terms while his teeth grazed Aziraphale’s throat, biting harshly enough for a hickey. That was all it took, apparently because a string of curses left his lips and he felt his while body sag, his breath heavy and his member slowly relaxing, retreating from Crowley’s insides.
They laid there for a while, a tangled mess of limbs, hands and lips until urges demanded otherwise. Aziraphale had removed the rubber and left it over the nightstand in lack of a waste bin, since the other man seemed adamant about staying in bed, tattooed body stretched like a well-fed cat. His own fairer and unblemished skin, much less taught but nonetheless beautiful to certain golden eyes, was currently being mapped by curious hands and probing fingers, very interested in every little freckle and scratch, all of them deserved special attention in Crowley’s mind. It was quiet again, only this time it wasn’t tension or excitement, it was fear of breaking this reverent moment that stopped the shorter man from asking about the whereabouts of the bathroom until his lover smiled, this time it wasn’t a smirk and it wasn’t awkward or nervous, it was just content.
“The bathroom is the room just opposite, bring some towels and water for me, please” he said as an afterthought, as if reading his mind was the most natural thing in the world.
“I’ll be right back” Aziraphale promised, giving a parting kiss to his lover’s forehead and rolling towards the nightstand to pick up the trash. He turned off the light and closed the door in his wake, taking a quick shower and picking up a couple of soft towels, one soaked in water and the other completely dry. Then he padded his way to the kitchen, rummaging through the cabinets for a couple of glasses to fill and maybe some biscuits or any other snack, although he couldn’t remember Crowley eating anything aside from the chips they’d shared the night before. By the time he came back, the taller man was dozing off, now curled on himself as he burrowed under a thin sheet. He must have taken the covers and stored them somewhere while the green-eyed musician was away.
“Did you bring something to eat?” Crowley yawned, wetting his lips, almost pouting. Aziraphale fought the urge to just fling himself into the bed and eat him alive.
“Water, crisps and towels for my Tony” he announced while placing the glasses and food on the nightstand, carefully slipping into bed right after, damped towel in hand, the other left at the foot of the bed.
“Oh, please, stop it. I know you think it’s funny but my family is…” the protest was silenced by a gentle finger placed over his lip while the right hand started the task of rubbing and soothing with the soft fabric.
“I don’t think it’s funny, I think it’s adorable” Aziraphale whispered, whipping the sweat on his neck and chest, using the left hand to trace the intricate designs of crosses, snakes and a dark raven feather right over his navel while his lover reclined on his back.
“What do they call you at home, anyway? You’ve never said anything about them” Crowley wondered out loud, his eyes closing and his whole body lax and cooperative, turning and elevating when Aziraphale was done on his front and moved to his back. He never tried to capture the towel for himself, just basked on the attention and care the other man was displaying on him.
“They don’t call much” was the simple answer, not even a flinch or a halt in his movement as he tried to reach for the dry towel on his knees.
“Don’t they?” the taller man opened his eyes again, using his elbows to lift his upper body. The shorter man let the damp towel slip onto the floor as he took hold of the other one with both hands.
“They… expected something different from me and were quite disappointed with my decisions as a grown up, so they decided to cut ties” was the curt summary given while drying Crowley’s hair.
“All this time, did you have someone to talk to? Aside from an 11-year-old?” Aziraphale stopped the toweling all together, leaving the cloth between both and looking down pensative. Like a bolt, the taller man surged out of nowhere and held him tightly against his chest, softly breathing on his hair.
“It’s okay” the shorter musician let out, still shocked but grateful by the demonstration. “My sister and Pepper are there… I don’t think I ever told you, we were both adopted by the same family. She chose to stay by my side but still has contact with our parents for Pep’s sake” the embrace didn’t waver a flinch so he accepted it, breathed the scent of the body against his as they both relaxed and let their bodies fall gently towards the mattress, still entwined as sleep took hold of them.
Chapter 12: Armaggedon
When morning comes, many things are still unresolved, but they have decided to face everything from now on together.
In which Aziraphale spends to much time half naked and blushing, Crowley drives too fast but never gets a ticket, the Falling and Flaming Swords have to deal with their relationship and Gabriel is not such a big dick afterall.
(aka: the last chapter before the epilogue)
The waking up wasn’t quite so sweet. Someone kept banging at the door and assaulting the bell on the entrance insistently, a shrill voice shouted Crowley’s name a couple of times before any of them was even disturbed by the ruckus. The mobile phone over the nightstand buzzed with incoming texts. Aziraphale blinked weakly, barely aware of where he was and why was there a heave arm tossed over his chest. Everything came back in a rush, almost giving him whiplash with the intensity of barely 8 hours filled with events. The door and the phone were still reclaiming attention, so he grazed a gentle kiss on Crowley’s temple in an attempt to wake him up, to no avail. He tried caressing and scratching his back but came up with similar results. The person on the outside was persistent in calling “open the door, sly dog, I saw you bring a hot piece of ass yesterday” which was probably the most embarrassing way Aziraphale had ever been referred to. He poked the other man slightly, while shaking his shoulder mildly but he was still fast asleep. There was no other option, then. He picked out the towels from the night before- couldn’t find his clothes for the life of him, Crowley must have done something with them… He might have even dropped them in a laundry basket or something equally ridiculous- and wore the dry one over his hips, trying not to feel too self conscious over his perceived pudgy body on display. The person on the other side of the door only stopped the annoyed rapping when the door opened a sliver.
“Hallo, Crowley is not available at the moment but if you…” the door opened with a bang. The person on the other side had pushed and snuck in without permission, leaving the toweled man completely baffled while still holding the handle. The slim brunette bespectacled woman who crashed into the apartment smiled smugly as she took him from head to toe in a glance.
“Anathema Device, nice to meet you” she introduced herself while heading directly into the kitchen, opening cabinets in quick succession only to turn on the coffee machine less than 2 minutes later with such dexterity, it seemed quite clear she did this most mornings. Aziraphale remained silent, still in shock over this strange woman barging in “Well, you must have a name too, right? I’m sure Crowley wouldn’t hook up with any random nameless person on the street” she had prepared three cups and was filling each with the fresh brew.
“Aziraphale…” he blurted out, accepting one of the three cups as she handed it and took hold of the other two, moving in sweet motions towards the bedroom and only turning around at the mention of his name.
“Are you THE Aziraphale?” she exclaimed in wonder, as if she was shocked by the sudden appearance of Robert Downey JR in her living room. The bedroom door opened before she could reach it, Crowley still disheveled and only half dressed, his eyes red and groggy. He stole away the mug from Anathema’s hand and sighed into the cup, reclining his body against a wall.
“I see you have already met” he yawned, sipping as he sent a stern look on the woman’s direction.
“I cannot believe you never told me he had dark hair. I had been imagining as a bleached blond all this time” she giggled, practically throwing herself on the couch as Crowley winced “It’s just your type, isn’t him?” Aziraphale blushed and tried to stand a little straighter, holding his breath to dissimulate the soft belly. It only made the woman laugh.
“Stop pestering him, I just convinced him to stay the night and you’re gonna scare him away” Crowley scolded with a hint of mirth in his words. The damn bastard was enjoying this.
“I wouldn’t dare, not after all the pining, moaning and fretting you have made me endure for almost two years” she shook her head, taking over her cup as she kept regarding the frozen man next to the door.
“Ana, I thank you for your daily wake up call but it’s time to go, I am afraid you might have broken him altogether” the shorter man blinked twice and opened his mouth to say something but she had already pushed herself out of the couch and into the door’s direction, kissing his cheek briefly and patting the top of his head before vacating all together.
“Nice to meet you!” she yelled from the hall. Crowley chuckled against the mug, sipping one more time before resting it on the counter and approaching the man, who was slowly recovering color.
“Sorry for that, she’s a handful but I have missed more than one appointment for the heavy sleeping, so she comes most mornings. I should have said something in hindsight” Aziraphale smiled as he felt the other’s arms encircle his hips, and crouch a little to peck at his lips.
“I’d would like to meet her with clothes on, sometime” he sighed, his body finally relaxing after the sudden break in. The taller musician snickered, his thumbs massaging the still tense jaw all the while.
“They were quite ruined anyway. I left them on the hamper yesterday, but you can borrow something if you like” the shorter man finally rose the coffee to his lips- it was quite cold by now and didn’t even have sugar or cream in it. Crowley stifled another laugh at his disgruntled expression after tasting it.
“You are enjoying yourself way too much” Aziraphale asserted, trying his best to look serious and offended but failing by showing his amusement in the twinkle of his eyes.
“You didn’t complain much about it yesterday” the other shrugged, nonchalant, retrieving the cup from his lover’s hands while letting his fingers linger over the hands previously holding it.
“Now you’re just begging for it” he murmured in a low tone, arching an eyebrow as his gaze grew heavy. Crowley turned around and let the cup rest next to his own in the counter.
“Do something about it, then” he suggested shamelessly while pouring the contents of both mugs down the sink, not even bothering to turn around. The phone- who even has a landline anymore? - rang unexpectedly as the shorter man was about to fulfil his promise. They both stopped in their tracks.
“You should take that” Aziraphale voiced in a disappointed grunt, all too aware of who might be on the other side of the line.
“Fuck them” Crowley hissed, moving towards him rather than the telephone -wherever it may be.
“Your cell was buzzing when I woke up, must be important” the phone kept insisting and with one last look, the golden-eyed men advanced towards the plant shelve to take the phone.
“I’m not going today!” was the first thing out of his mouth after picking up, then his expression changed to a surprised one. “Were they? So what, they’d never give a shot…” he sat on the couch, one foot over pushed over the cushion whereas the other stayed on the ground. His nervousness was evident and Aziraphale wondered for the first time how Flaming Swords could be doing, he had been dodging them for a long time but still cared deeply for the wellbeing of the group; seeing Crowley’s excitement over the call was only reassuring him on what he had already decided but was too scared to admit. He walked to the couch and sat to the other’s right, placing a reassuring hand on his clothed leg. The other man turned his head towards him, quizzically and he just smiled, nodding his head as he listened how Beelzebub asked him to meet them at their usual spot as soon as possible. The taller musician agreed to that, resting his head over his lover’s shoulder as he said his goodbyes.
“They like Ineffable” Aziraphale said matter-of-factly, like he already knew what had been discussed.
“They did” the other musician conceded, dropping the device on the couch and his head from a shoulder to a lap.
“I never told you yesterday… I didn’t know if it was appropriate for me to be there listening, you clearly wrote it as a goodbye and I felt like I was prying into something I shouldn’t” green eyes stared at golden ones directly.
“I wanted you to listen. I never thought you would, I didn’t dare to hope you’d change your mind if you did but I wanted you to know what it meant to me, even if it didn’t change a thing” Crowley muttered, raising a hand to tuck a stray curl under the other’s ear. The hair gel had vanished during the shower and what was left was messy and tangled hair wild still from the bed. Aziraphale stop the hand with his own, holding it to his lips and gently kissing the inside of his lover’s wrist.
“I need to say something. I know you’re not going to like it and I don’t want it to change anything between us. I am always going to choose you, no matter what but I do want to come back to the Flaming Swords” he was almost scared of letting it out, of the other man kicking him out of his house in only a shower towel.
“Okay” Crowley agreed easily.
“Listen, I…” the shorter musician froze for a moment “What?!” the unexpected response left him dumbfounded.
“You are their only shot at competing with us now that we are performing at the most exclusive pub in the city, it’s only fair” his lover explained patiently, raising from the comfortable lap and the couch, heading to the shower.
“You really don’t mind?” Aziraphale wondered out loud, following him suit.
“I don’t give a crap as long as you come and eat me out at the end of every show” he laughed on the doorjamb.
“That can be arranged. Do you promise not to vandalize, physically threaten or bully my band members or our possessions?” was the only request in exchange.
“You are no fun” Crowley pouted, getting into the bathroom and leaving the door open.
“You should lend me some clothes if you don’t want me to wait here all day until you come back from your important meeting” his lover spoke while slipping into the room by his side, watching as he took away the gym pants and underwear.
“But I really want that. Can you just stay and vacuum the carpet while Queen plays?” they both chuckled and Crowley turned on the water, letting it run for a bit.
“Then you would miss it” Aziraphale pointed out, the shorter one tested the water temperature with his own hand.
“You can record it and send it for me to be distracted during my boring meeting” the taller one suggested, entering the shower and waiting expectantly for his partner.
“So you can give Hastur and Dagon an eyeful? No, thank you” Aziraphale protested, still not quite inside and wearing the damn towel.
“I would watch it alone in the bathroom” that got a raised eyebrow and the towel finally on the floor.
“What else would you do there?” he asked, stepping in the small cubicle, crowding in.
“You don’t want me to come back with a stiffy, right? I would need to alleviate the tension” Crowley purred as he rubbed the soap on the other’s back.
“Do not start things we cannot finish, you are already running late as it is and I want to try to contact Gabriel to arrange a meeting” at the mere mention of Gabriel, the tension around them dissipated almost in an instant.
It was quicker from then on, they rushed in the shower and out of it, then picked some clothing from the bedroom wardrobe -some oversized band T-shirt Cowley seldomly wore and a pair of jeans that were on the loose side for his owner but exquisitely tight for Aziraphale. They were too long but he was wearing them under the boots anyway- the way down the stairs was much hurried than the night before, the shorter man jumping two steps at a time while supporting his weight on the taller man one step ahead. Crowley’s Bentley was -again- in the car shop due to the motor malfunction- or the stubbornness of his owner in letting go of the first and only car he had bought, already vintage- so they had to jog the 15 minutes to the Blitz and pick up Aziraphale’s jeep. The story of how he ended up with such a car is related to a drunk game of poker at uni, a lucky strike and one of his rich, spoiled classmates betting his brand-new car. He had never played poker ever since that night.
The shorter musician unlocked the car and both of them tried to enter through the driver’s door, bumping shoulders and then looking at each other expectantly. Crowley was wearing sunglasses again but Aziraphale could read his expression anyhow.
“It’s my car, I’m driving” the owner stated calm but sure manner.
“I’m not letting granny take the wheel, these guys are cutting my balls if I get there any later” the one with shades replied in a heated way. The shorter man contained laughter at the last comment, shaking his head half-amused.
“Anything for your balls” he agreed solemnly, handing the car keys and turning for the passenger door.
The only way Crowley’s driving could be described was hellish. He almost went over 3 ladies, barley missed hitting 2 bikes and got honked at by a trailer for his reckless overtaking. Aziraphale hanged for his dear life into an overhead handle -as if that were safer than the seatbelt he was wearing. When they arrived at the parking lot, the owner actually exhaled a breath that he realized had been holding in for most of the ride. He looked at the other man crossly, ready to shout about the dangers of driving at 90km/h in the middle of London at rush hour, however, Crowley sent an impish look over the rim of his sunglasses and he just felt like he had just been tricked by a devil.
“I still have a couple of minutes” he drawled, removing his glasses all together and adjusting on the car seat. What was he…? Oh, he was hard, the bulge clearly visible through the fitted pants. Aziraphale didn’t doubt for a second, he just slid a little and pushed his hand over the zipper, very aware of the lack of underwear from where they dressed.
“Almost getting ourselves killed really turns you on, uh?” he joked while the buckle came undone and the clothed was unzipped, letting out the erect member.
“It was the way you grasped that handle…You should have seen your face, it was like a porno” were the words spoken as he slid down the pants under his buttocks, granting the shorter musician free access.
“So it’s my fault?” Aziraphale pouted, showing himself over dramatic “I guess I should do something about it then…” the next thing he knew was that Aziraphale had removed his T-shirt and went down on him, sloppily blowing him over the gearbox like there was no tomorrow. Crowley closed his eyes and let his body enjoy every bit of the experience, letting his head sag against the seat and forgetting the world for an instant.
Then came a loud shriek that took him out of his reverie. He opened his eyes abruptly and found his partner red faced and shocked, looking out of the car window as he tried to retrieve the T-shirt from the back seat.
“What the Hell?” the golden-eye man cursed as he realized where the shrieking came from. Beelzebub was furiously screaming at both, approaching the car and opening Aziraphale’s door in a blast, cold air rushing through and perking his nipples.
“YOU MOTHERFUCKING…!!!” the band leader started, completely out of his teeter as he clutched the man’s arm and pulled until he was out of the car, dragging him by the shoulders into the parking lot for maybe 200 metres. In that instant, while looking at him up close, some recognition sparked in his eyes. He looked towards the car, then outside and closed his eyes. “Crowley…” he started dangerously.
“Yes?” he asked, non-pulsed, pulling up his pants, zipper and buckling the belt.
“Are you fucking the Flaming Swords BASS PLAYER?” he accused, trying to maintain his cool but raising the intonation and losing it all together during the last word.
“Oh no, for God’s sake! How dare you think that!” he denied, offended by the implication “he is fucking me, I am a tiger on the stage and a princess in the bed” Aziraphale and Beelzebub both choked on their saliva.
“What is going on here?” Hastur asked as the rest of the band members stepped out of the building, attracted by the noise of the argument and Beelzebub’s screeching. The half-naked man covered his torso with both arms, trying to hide his stiff nipples and the rest of the arousal in his body. He feebly tried to make a run for the backdoor of the car, but the band leader sent him a poisonous look that told him not to move too much -for his own safety. Crowley took his sunglasses from the jean’s pocket and put them on before the Fallen reached them. He tried his best to show a bored face and kicked a pebble out of his way for good measure.
“Look! I told you they were shagging!” Ligur snickered with a lewd dedicated to Hastur, loud enough for everyone in the parking lot to hear. Dagon rolled their eyes.
“Why is he familiar?” the keyboard player asked puzzled, still a few meters away “I think it’s the groupie from Bastille festival” he squinted his eyes and then recognition dawned on them too “Oh fuck” he let out, more tired than angry. Ligur giggled -which was quite a feat for such a burly, low pitched voiced man.
“That’s exactly what they were doing!” Beelzebub spluttered accusingly, pointing at the shorter’s man naked chest. His bandmates kept approaching the car in unison.
“They were together that day at Bastille, when Crowley had the temper tantrum and stormed off. He was in the food queue with this guy, only he was wearing something out of an Austen’s novel” Hastur confided once they were all in a circle surrounding both bass players. Dagon and Beelzebub glanced over at Aziraphale and remembered the groupie who was snogging their bandmate against some trash cans.
“How long has this been going on?!” Beelzebub demanded in a fit of anger, directing his anger at Crowley.
“How is “this” any of your business?” the alluded one shrugged, not backing down for a second.
“We didn’t mean to cause trouble; we just kissed a bit and…” Aziraphale was interrupted by the rude music band, who were are rolling eyes, cutting stares and jeers.
“You were giving him a blowjob in the middle of a public parking lot at 11:15 in the morning. What the fuck were you looking for if not trouble!” Beelzebub bellowed, getting nods and confused looks from the rest, who started to murmur and whisper conspiratorially between themselves.
“SHUT UP ALREADY!” Crowley shouted over the whispers, chuckles and other noises he rather we not delve on. “Whatever we have been doing, how long or where is up for debate. Is there any problem in me having sex with men?”
“No” all of them agreed in unison, only to break into chattering again.
“Then why the fuck is there a problem with my boyfriend sucking me off in his car?!” everyone stopped talking at once, looking directly to Aziraphale’s reaction, which was basically as shocked as them but included blushing all the way down his neck.
“BOYFRIEND!” Ligur sneered loudly, like he had blasphemed inside the Vatican church.
“Your what?” Aziraphale whispered to his ear covering his face instead of his torso with his hands.
“You are my boyfriend, shut up” Crowley murmured back in a fond tone.
“I wasn’t complaining” his lover - no - his boyfriend smiled, dropping his hands from his face.
“You better not” the taller man commented, extended his open palm for the other to take, the green-eyed one took the hand almost by instinct, interlacing their fingers and squeezing reassure.
“HE IS THE BASS PLAYER FOR FLAMING SWORDS!!” Dagon intervened in a hysterical fit, losing his cool for the first time since… probably since the group could remember.
“No way genius, did you pick that up yourself? You didn’t care who he was in that alleyway” Crowley sniggered, squeezing the hand back.
“He came incognito!” Beelzebub pointed out furiously, imitating a lawyer from a court TV show.
“I wasn’t trying to spy or anything” Aziraphale tried to defend himself as polite as possible, a little scared of how angered they all were and how the circle they had formed around the two of them kept closing and closing.
“Why would you wear such ridiculous clothes then? You are in a rock band, not in a production of My Fair Lady” Hastur spat derisively, bring out the laughter from all the members of the Fallen but one. The offended looked down, ashamed.
“Take that back” Crowley ordered, low and dangerous. He let go of the hand to drop off his jacket, passing it on to the man standing beside him.
“Or what?” Hastur mocked him, emboldened by the band’s supportive banter behind them.
“Do it, now” their base player took off his sunglasses in a deliberate and slow, letting his eyes reflect just how angry he was starting to become.
“Stuff you man, you know I am right. This phony bitch has been taking our gigs and getting recordings for a shitty love song Coldplay could have composed. They are a fucking disgrace to the genre” Aziraphale’s bitter smiled, biting his upper lip as a single teardrop started to form in his right eye was the last straw for Crowley. The band chuckled under their breaths and every eye turned to taller bass player, daring him to say something or start a physical fight if he was foolish enough.
“I am out. Good luck selling the only song people like because I’m not giving it to you shitheads” he took his boyfriend’s arm and shoved their way out of the circle, who were too speechless to complain. They had reached the car and Aziraphale was able to retrieve the loaned t-shirt before the band reacted to the ultimatum.
“Wait!” Beelzebub called, the first out of the collective shock. Crowley had already entered the driver’s seat. “You should have told us before, the guys are trying to understand all this, that’s all. Don’t go just like that… Hastur, apologize!” the lead commanded harshly.
“I didn’t say anything...” Hastur complained. Every band member gave him a stingy look, silently asking him to cut the crap. “I’m sorry” he mumbled finally. The man on the driver seat just rolled his eyes.
“Not to me, fucker. To him” Crowley let out between his teeth, pointing his head towards his lover.
“He really doesn’t have to…” Aziraphale sighed, already too embarrassed by the whole situation. The whole morning had consisted in awkwardly meeting people in various states of nakedness, which had been a nightmare of his ever since he was called “fatty” in high school.
“I’m sorry if I offended you… Bass player from Flaming Swords” Hastur shouted looking at the floor, clearly not meaning any of it. Crowley cracked his neck to the right before turning the engine on and speeding out of view.
“I tried!” the guitar player shrugged, heading back inside the building without waiting for anyone. Beelzebub closed his eyes, defeated and balled his hands into fists but did not utter a word. Dagon and Ligur stood expectant for a few seconds before they realized the leader had no plan whatsoever. They shared a tired look and retreated to the rehearsal room as well. Beelzebub let out a loud, guttural scream, attracting some curious looks from neighbours.
On the back of the jeep, Aziraphale fought against the seatbelt and it’s buckling system, which did not agree with Crowley’s sudden swerves and swivers at fast speed.
“Where are we going?” was the scared question from the back as the driver honked at large truck.
“I’m taking you to the Flaming Dorks rehearsal room. We’re settling this shit today. If they don’t want us, they can suck dick, we are starting our thing” the shorter man sighed as he let his head fall and bounce against the seat, trying hard not to complain about speed limits, safe driving or worse, about the reckless plan his boyfriend was adamant about. He held the ledge of the seat to both sides of his legs and mentally prepared for the worst scenario possible.
They reached the building with a slam of brakes, dust gathering around the car in their wake. Crowley descended and walked to the passenger door, opening the right side and offering his open palm. It made his boyfriend smile, even after what could be described as the most tormentous ride of his life. He unbuckled and took the hand proffered.
“I’m going in alone” he asserted the moment his feet took ground and his lover’s other hand found his way around his waist in a tight side embrace. The taller man nodded once, letting go with a hurt expression “just… Wait for me here… Please” Aziraphale added in a soft tone as his left hand raised Crowley’s chin, caressing his jaw with a warm expression. His boyfriend pursed his lips and showed his defeated gazed over the rim of the permanent shades. He placed his right hand over the smaller one on his chin for a second.
“I’ll be in the Round Table, old Shadwell might have a place for a bartender there” Aziraphale’s mind could only remember the man’s mocking words and rude demeanor, but he was quite certain of the location of the pub.
“It won’t be long, I swear. I just want to shed some light on why I have been unreachable and what is going on with us. They deserve to know.” he felt the relief emanate from Crowley’s body, relaxing it’s stiff posture. Aziraphale was still in awe of how someone so hard on the exterior could be so easily bruised by a misunderstanding. He understood in that second what Mrs and Mr Young had been trying to tell him the day before. They weren’t mocking Tony, they were laying out his true self and hoping Aziraphale was worthy of him.
“Do what’s best for you, I don’t want us both to end up working at that shithole” the taller musician spoke, clearing his throat and attempting a lame joke. His lover smiled as bright as the sun anyway, drawing him into a full hug against his body.
“I’d work in Hell if only you came with me, don’t worry about that” the eyeglasses did not betray his owner but the Flaming Swords’ member was close enough to hear the cointeined sob on Crowley’s throat before they parted.
As Aziraphale walked the corridor to their rehearsal room, he kept thinking about what he wanted to say and how the Flaming Swords would take it but then, he thought, they might not even be here anymore or they got themselves another bass player that didn’t ditch them constantly when he felt overwhelmed. He was about to turn back and walk towards the bar where Crowley waited when someone called his name. He turned around to Gabriel, who stood between their space and the collective restroom, arms crossed but gentle expression.
“You never texted back” the band leader started neutrally… at least he did not seem mad.
“I have had some rough weeks after we dropped the festival. I needed to clear my head. I’m sorry I never picked up the phone” Aziraphale tried to explain.
The vocalist shook his head slightly with a contrite expression
“We were just worried” he said honestly, letting a small smile graze his lips “I’ve been there buddy, I know it’s not pretty. When I joined the group, I felt so much pressure myself to measure myself with this ‘Boss’ everyone kept talking about. I failed at writing songs and I felt like an intruder constantly, so when that bass player kept pushing my buttons I kind of lost it. Things got better eventually but being questioned by Crowley all the time just made me feel inadequate so it worked for the best that he left and we hired you instead.” There was a knot on Aziraphale’s stomach that loosened a bit at those words, feeling reflected and not so alone anymore. Everyone always looked so confident they seemed to be born like that, but Gabriel was learning (and so was Aziraphale) that you have to stumble three or four times before you can walk straight enough to run.
“I’m okay now” Zira said reassuringly, “I’d like to come back if you will have me” the lead nodded, approaching him and offering his hand for a shake.
“Next time, just tell us you need time” Gabriel said as they stood with their hands holding and gazes fixing on each other. The lead had a tender expression the bass player did not remember ever beholding before. He knew he couldn’t keep the whole truth from them.
“There’s one more thing… I am sort of dating someone” Gabriel blinked in confusion.
“So?” he asked amused.
“It’s Crowley” Aziraphale blurted out, not beating about the bush. “The Fallen already know… I thought it was best you all knew as well” The vocalist pinched his brow, letting out a stream of breath through his mouth.
“What you do in your personal life is none of our business but that… boyfriend of yours has vandalized every single doormat in my house for a year, he has defaced our equipment and shat on everything the band holds dear. He is not welcome around here” Gabriel was adamant in this statement and Aziraphale he was ready for the blow, especially after the confession Gabriel made a few moments ago; he already expected it and yet, it hurt anyway.
“If he is not welcome, neither am I so… I guess this is my official resignation from Flaming Swords”
Uriel and Michael stepped into the corridor and approached Aziraphale with cordial smiles, but Gabriel’s stern gaze stopped them in their tracks.
“Good luck with those monsters” the lead sighed, turning his back and promoting the other two to do the same. They stood there, looking at the base player with conflicted expressions and a sad smile.
“I’m not playing with the Fallen, just for your information” he sighed before returning the way he had come. He felt strangely relieved as he let the morning breeze sway his curly hair and hit his damp face. He headed for a pint in the most hideous pub but the company made it worth it.
Crowley got a text from Beelzebub that night, but he was too engaged in other activities to pay it much mind. It wasn’t until the morning after he actually saw what the lead from his former group had to say.
“We need you and you need us. You cannot quit when things start to turn out right for the band”
He never replied, but Beelzebub was nothing but persistent and kept sending one message a day for two weeks until Crowley felt so annoyed by his insistence, he just wrote back.
As much as the couple was trying to make Crowley’s idea work, too many cooks in one kitchen only made them bicker and pick stupid fights over the smallest matters as the naming, the composition of their new band and their image.
They had worked out early on what were there business hours and to keep things professional during those, as well as not to bring them up during their time “outside work”. It was getting harder and harder to keep lines now, as time passed and their project seemed to crumble with too many basses and not enough money to hire other musicians.
Aziraphale picked the cell as it rang loudly while Crowley was still in the shower.
“This is Crowley’s partner, he’s currently unavailable but will call back as soon as possible” he announced to the speaker, imprinting as much cheer as he could muster. The person on the other line paused before letting out a tired sighed.
“Oh, it’s you” a familiar voice drawled, Beelzebub. He was about to hang up, letting out a couple of expletives and sighs when the leader of the band spoke again “Wait! I just wanted to apologize for what happened last time… We were a little out of line but you weren’t much better! You left without even giving us a chance to make sense of what was happening and never returned the texts”
“Look, this is not my call. Crowley left for a reason and I respect that. We’re both trying to make it work without any of you pushing and pulling” Aziraphale’s anger slipped through his words. The person on the other line chuckled.
“You want to make a band out of two basses? Who is playing the tambourine?” he thought himself funny enough to laugh at his own joke and the bass was tempted to just push the red button and stop the exchange.
“Good morning and good luck” Aziraphale’s curt tone cut him off, extinguishing the mirth in his voice.
“Don’t do this to yourselves. You know as well as me, it's not gonna work out and our debut in Apocalypse is only 2 weeks away. We need Crowley and he should be composing with us right now. It doesn’t work when he is not here… We could establish some ground rules and we’ll work from there! You can come with him, I swear we’re not going to humiliate any of you this time around” desperation reeked in his tone, he was running out of time and options already.
“I cannot promise anything” was the curt response.
“I am not asking you to! I just want a chance for us to meet and clear all this up.” Beelzebub pleaded.
Crowley chose that moment to step into the living room, frowning as he spotted the phone on his lover’s hand.
“Who is it?” he asked warily, as if he could tell just by the way he was holding the phone.
“Beelzebub would like to meet us both… He wants to reach an arrangement” he summarized, rubbing his temples to stop the coming headache.
“He can take his arrangement and stuff it all the way up his…” Aziraphale covered the speaker with his hand during the last, predictable word.
“PASS THE PHONE” the band lead begged with a passion. The shorter bass player sighed and held the phone to his partner, who turned on the speakerphone mode and left it over the kitchen counter.
“What the hell do you want?” he hissed.
“It’s been two weeks motherfucker, do you think is funny to ghost us this way? We perform soon and the arrangements are not ready” Beelzebub accused him. Crowley shaked his head disbelieving.
“I quit your crappy band, dingdong, I do not owe you shit” he shouted back in the general direction of the phone. Aziraphale bit his lip, amused by the exchange.
“Please, I know you are trying not to kill your boyfriend before he kills you with this band you two want to do… Are you Yoko Ono-ing us? I’m no Paul Mccartney bitch!” the couple looked at each other briefly and stifled a burst of laughter.
“You are making it so easy for me to hang up on you” Crowley warned.
“I was joking! You used to have a sense of humor, man. I just want us all to get along and smoke a peace blunt. Your boyfriend can come, Dagon and the boys want to apologize… for real this time” Aziraphale nodded his head in a reassuring manner, showing his thumbs up for good measure.
“If this is one of your pranks…” the former Fallen member threatened. Beelzebub smiled on the other end.
They met the next day in the same parking lot where they had seen each other for the last time. This time, they rode the Bentley and Aziraphale was becoming used to the reckless driving, although he still wondered about the miraculous way in which they hadn’t been fined once in the past weeks. The band was waiting, but at least this time no one was half naked so it was definitely an improvement. Hastur was the first to speak, apologizing in a sincere way -as the lead had predicted.
“For the record” Aziraphale voiced for all of them “I never tried to spy on you, I was just trying to shag your bass player, honestly.” They seemed amused by his phrasing, getting a slow punch and a couple of shoulder claps from Ligur and Dagon. Crowley shuffled from one foot to the other as he sulked beneath the shades next to his partner.
“Oh, c’mon. Come give us a hug, you heartless bastard” Ligur shouted at him as he embraced the man in a crushing bear hold. Beelzebub smiled, joining them as did Dagon and Hastur.
“You only want me for my songs” Crowley complained dramatically, smiling widely beneath the pile of limbs from musicians. Aziraphale stood watching and smiling back at him with a strain of melancholy; the other tried to say something over the sound of his bandmates making farting jokes and finally disentangling from him. Someone cleared his throat rather loudly and reminded them the objective of this meeting.
“We still need to talk about this” Beelzebub stated firmly after getting their attention. “You are not quitting and we do not oppose to you seeing the bass from…”
“Aziraphale, his name is Aziraphale” Crowley clarified heatedly. Ligur and Hastur shared a funny look and tried not to let the mirth escape at the name.
“What he means” Dagon stepped in “is that you can do whatever in your private life as long as it doesn’t affect the band. No more kidnappings or spying on us… I saw him that night at the Blitz” Ligur nodded vigorously, remembering the incident with the van.
“I’m sorry if it came up that way, I didn’t mean to steal Crowley away or listen to your songs to get inspired, nothing like that” Aziraphale was a little less hurt this time.
“What about the time you tried to sabotage us by breaking the keyboard?” Hastur asked in a fit of anger; his stitches had healed but the scuffle had left him a scar right over his nose.
“I rushed out when you were barging in, I hope we did not damage the keyboard on the way” Dagon rolled their eyes and shook his head, indicating the musical instrument wasn’t harmed in the process.
“What about your snobbish bandmates? Are they fine with you two fucking?” Ligur blurted out, finally addressing everyone’s main concern.
“I haven’t… I don’t…” Crowley stopped him before he started to ramble again, with a finger to his lips.
“He took a break from music but he’s coming back to Flaming Swords, which reminds me… You need to stop pulling pranks on them. I know they’re hilarious…” the group complained loudly at this.
“Most of them were your idea!” Dagon accused him as the rest agreed silently.
“Well, I never did anything did I? Anyway, they have their style and we have ours but we are getting nowhere competing with dirty tricks. If we are better than them, we need to show them by attracting bigger crowds and becoming bigger than them our way” the band members looked at each other and shared a disappointed sigh.
“I’m gonna miss throwing gum at Sandalphon’s bald head. The way it stuck…” Ligur mourned.
“I guess there’s no point saying it was us who made a graffiti on their van last week” Hastur shrugged.
“There are other bands to terrorize, do not worry” Dagon smiled deviously.
“So we agree, then? No more bad blood” Beelzebub offered, everyone nodded and sealed the deal with a pint in their usual spot after rehearsal. Aziraphale made up his mind and contacted the members of Flaming Swords, asking to meet the week after that one.
He didn’t take Crowley this time around either, it wasn’t necessary and he’d rather not incense the hatred between his lover and the leader of his former band. Things were slowly turning up with their relationship now that they got a little space from each other and started to take steps without rushing into a musical partnership but Aziraphale was still very unemployed and considering the spot as a barman in the Round Table, of all places.
He did not expect any of the Flaming Sword to listen or understand what was happening and why he hadn’t look for another band hiring a bass instead of trying to contact them all over again. He felt like he owed them an explanation, or something better to what he gave Gabriel last time, at least.
He didn’t hesitate as he approached the rehearsal room, did not check if it was locked, just let himself in as he had never left and greeted every member with a smile as they filled in mere minutes after him.
“Is there something you’d like to tell us?” Michael finally asked, speaking for the group as a whole. The had been summoned but not filled in on the why.
“I suppose Gabriel already told you about me and Crowley” he chose to start with the hardest part. They all looked at each other, contrite, and agreed with their heads. “Well, I’m not about to hide that away from you anymore. I’m quite of us, actually so I don’t think there’s any need to keep pretending. We are together and I… I have never found the time to tell him but I’m in love with him. He inspired Rome and he was also the reason why I couldn’t write anymore. I know you don’t want to hear that but he is partly the reason why we became successful at all. We are not perfect but we’re working on helping each other… I should have probably told you this while it was happening but I guess is better later than never so I want to apologize for letting my feelings get in the way of my work. I felt pressured by you and drawn by him, I was conflicted and scared. I almost gave up on all of you and him because I was afraid of dealing with the consequences but I am here today, braving it up and asking you for another chance I know I don’t deserve” it was quite the monologue and he might have shed a few tears here and there but at least he got it out his chest. Uriel and Michael stood in their seats, unmoved by the confession, but Sandalphon seemed quite shocked by the revelations. Gabriel smiled sideways, looking at his shoes rather than his face.
“Does Crowley know you are here, asking to be reinstated as a member of the group?” was Uriel’s question, the first brave enough to speak.
“He knows and he has encouraged me from the very beginning. He would also like you to know that he has signed a nonaggression treaty with The Fallen, they won’t pull anymore shenanigans on us as a sign of respect between both bands. They would also like to apologize for the graffiti” Sandalphon butted in, rising from his chair in fury, then pointing an accusing finger toward Aziraphale.
“I told you it was their doing!” he shouted colerically in Gabriel’s direction, the rest of the members murmuring words of appeasement to calm him down.
“They are willing to change so that’s what we should take out of this” Uriel shrugged, unbothered.
“I don’t have any problem with Crowley as long as he stays in his line and doesn’t invade ours” Michael agreed. Sandalphon sat down again, defeated.
“I guess if they stop pulling shit on us, is fine with me” he mumbled under his breath.
“And you?” Aziraphale inquired to Gabriel. His lips pursed a little and his nose scrunched.
“I’m okay, Crowley is just an opinionated bastard but if he’s good to you, I have nothing against… whatever you two are doing. Keep him away from my building complex, though. He gets creative sometimes with his little pranks” there was a small trace of annoyance in his voice and Aziraphale would rather not ask how creative he had gotten but could easily imagine it.
The members of the group lifted themselves from their chairs and approached the the bass player, welcoming back with hugs and handshakes -depending on each member. Aziraphale felt more relaxed and freed than he could ever remember in the last 2 years after that brief moment.
During his absence, the group had composed some songs in his absence, and the collaborative effort was working way better than Gabriel trying to control everything and write all by himself. The repertoire had started to include softer ballads like the one Aziraphale composed and upbeat songs that could get most people dancing. It was more on the pop side than the rock one but no one gave a crap at that point. They had lost the opportunity to record an album but who wanted to rush it with just one good song? It felt like a fresh start and everyone felt the excitement of all that waited ahead for them.
When they had a break, he checked the forgotten phone on a side table and found one single message from Crowley.
Are you still alive or did those hyenas eat your alive?
He smiled despite himself and replied
Sandalphon tried, but my meat is too tough for him
Your meat is all mine, they don’t know how to cook you properly
Was the response a few seconds later.
You know I love your cooking. They got me back, by the way
Crowley sent a gif of Justin Bieber thanking not only God but Jesus, which made him chuckle. Then the dots that signaled writing starting to move again but the actual message took a while and, at times, it seemed like the other had stopped writing altogether; finally, a short text arrived.
You are worth the trouble of standing Gabriel
That one made his chest tighten as he understood the meaning behind it, and why it had been so difficult to phrase.
Maybe we can invite him over when you cook crêpes tonight
He suggested, trying to lighten the mood before he said something he wasn’t quite prepared to tell him yet.
Shut up, I know you love me too
The last chapter of this story.
In which life goes on, Aziraphale and Crowley's relationship through the years to come
Life is never easy and neither are relationships. They stumble, hurt and get harmed by the other in more occasion that they want to recall, but every single time, they pick each other up and mend every broken piece with care and tenderness. The make promises they cannot keep, like stop mocking Gabriel behind his back as he’s invited for their housewarming party, or sort some of the books in boxes for donations to local libraries. They quarrel and they make up five minutes afterwards because they cannot stand the thought of being apart for more than two days straight.
There are successes and failures in both their careers are musicians and neither the Fallen or the Flaming Swords become international hits but they do garner some loyal followers around Great Britain. They tour and travel separately, missing the days when they bumped into each other and let his bands throw tantrums while they slowly but surely fell in love.
There are love and yearning songs, there are fast-paced and rhythmic tunes to lyrics versing from crumbs in bed for yesterday’s breakfast, to global warming drowning everything but their little bubble. The Fallen accept Aziraphale as a positive influence on their bass player’s life over time and fall prey to their pranks more times that I have time to recount. The Flaming Swords never quite do the same for Crowley, even if they tolerate him in mild annoyance whenever he turns around in a gig, bringing both Pepper and Adam to their first rock concert at the tender age of 13.
They move in together a little over a year after they had started dating- they are still debating when exactly that was. Crowley maintains it was the night at Bastille or even before- they were having a break! -. Aziraphale defends they never actually put a name to it until the row in the parking lot right after Blitz.
It starts with a trip back to Tadfield to drop some teens in their respective households after spending the day with uncles Zira and Tony, going to museums and comic stores, eating Indian and trying out goth outfits in Camden Market. They are riding the Bentley -which is still working aside from the fact that a Queen cassette got stuck there in 1987 and never quite made it out, so Queen’s greatest hits and the radio are the only options for music.
It’s late in the afternoon and the sun is starting to set on the road ahead, momentarily blinding the driver and forcing him to reduce his speed considerably. Adam and Pepper haven’t complained about his driving and Aziraphale had given up on warning Crowley months ago, enjoying the thrill of adrenaline he felt whenever they came too close to another car or turned too suddenly. They hadn’t received a ticket yet. The slow motion of the car allows the passengers to see more clearly the small but well-kept cottage to the right of the road, merely 20 minutes away from the bustling city center. It has a sign stuck to the front lawn with a number and the message “for sale or rent”. To each side of the sign there are rose bushes and small daisies strewn around the rest that are visible from the car. It’s a small patch of land but big enough for a vegetable garden on the back. They pass it by in mere seconds but Aziraphale still looks back through the rearview as it becomes smaller and smaller.
The next day, he actually searches for the house on different agencies through Google until he finds the picture he’s looking for. There are some photos of the inside and a brief description of the cottage as well a telephone number and an email for contact. He doesn’t think much about it before contacting the agency for a tour that same evening. Crowley is out with the band so he doesn’t even need an excuse to ride the jeep to the small town where the cottage is placed. He has been told by the real estate agent that the showing will be collective, as another couple had contacted them this morning to see the house. He only wants to check it out for himself and imagine what his life there could be if only they had the money and he had the guts to ask Crowley to move in with him.
The agent, a middle-aged woman with curly ginger hair and sunny disposition introduces herself as Tracy and informs him they will start the visit soon, as one of the members of the couple was already on the back garden and the other would arrive shortly. She shows him the way to the backyard and asks him to wait alongside the other possible buyer. He turns the corner and finds a man crouched over the petunias, wearing similar clothing to the one Crowley chose this morning for…
The man stands up, smiling as he offers the freshly picked flower to his partner. Aziraphale is almost incapable of containing the tears and laughter.
“How did you know?” he asks in amazement, still reeling from the discovery. Crowley shrugs.
“You kept staring at the rearview mirror yesterday, I know that look. You have given it to me for the past year and a half every morning you wake by my side” Aziraphale scoffs it’s a year and two months.
“Are you telling me you knew I was going to come here today because I looked at the rearview mirror?” Crowley shrugs again and places the flower on his lover’s ear, his hand lingering and caressing the side of his face.
“I know you were thinking I’d like to have a vegetable garden, that the distance is halfway between London and Tadfield, that you could use one of the rooms as a library and that we may reconvert it someday in a nursery” Aziraphale closes his eyes, filled with emotion and sighs softly.
“I love you” he says simply and clearly, bringing his hand on the side of his face to his lips and kissing the palm, still quite dusty from the ground.
“I love you too, my angel. From the second you cracked that first joke in Golgotha”
Someone clears her throat in a loud manner, making them turn on their heels to find the real estate agent pursing her lips in a thigh line that softened into a smile the moment she saw the flower on Aziraphale’s ear and the dirt on Crowley’s hand.
“You should have told me we were all here!” she chastises feebly “ I guess we can start when you are ready”
They lock hands and nod their heads, following Tracy inside.
They ask for a loan that, luckily, doesn’t take a lot of effort to pay with both bands being on local stations and even a couple of video recordings for their greatest hits. They fill the house with plants and books, cups and CDs, soft towels and an ancient wardrobe Deidre had been keeping until Crowley could actually fit it anywhere in a house, in their house. The spare room becomes a library and then an office where they fit instruments and a desk for composing. With time, it does become a room for their child, Warlock.
The name is not something they had decided at all. They met the boy when he was already 6 years old and adamant about his name being that of a wizard and not the one the foster lady kept showing in the papers. It suited, though, Warlock and so, they respected his wishes and changed his name officially along with his surname in the adoption papers.
He likes poking slugs, experimenting with the back garden and driving his cousins Adam and Pepper crazy whenever they had to babysit him. He has a collection of tropical fish and a grudge on Hastur because of some petty row when they first met. He likes Gabriel well enough, which never settles well with Crowley but he has to suck it up when he sees the grin on his son’s face, the way it lights up when they pick up daddy from rehearsal and he sees uncle Gabi waving at him, taking advantage of his parents distraction to give him candy.
They take a trip to Italy and visit Rome. They explain to the boy why is it so important for them, he rolls his eyes and asks for another gelato since his parents are annoying saps who are ancient and like to dress like rockstars, play the part of the punk when they find a fan in the street -that was shocking for Warlock at first… they were just his dads- but they both cry watching the Sound of Music. They buy golden rings one day, in a small jeweler who engraves their names and the date when they had agreed on - over a decade later- they started dating. They add the name of the song that was playing that night: Ineffable.
Thank you for reading until here, I hope you have enjoyed the story.
I don't know if I might write some short stories about Warlock growing up with their rockstar dads in the future but if you would like to read them, please tell me so in the comments.
Thank you everyone for being so kind to me and my writing, I was quite scared and anxious when I started to publish and feel better about my writing now that I have not receive any bomb threats yet.
To reiterate, thank you to everyone reading but specially to my biggest supporters who have literally made me cry with their comments here or in Twitter (or over dms)
Martina, Mikki, Afri, Val, Tasha, Oscar, Levi, Dom, Lily, Azul, Rebecca, Snek, Oncer, Captain my Captain, Viky, Nessy, Angel... Thank you for the amazing support you have given me and for making me believe in myself a little. I owe you a lot and I am so sorry for the constant updates and tagging. I love you.